We continue tonight with some lovely thoughts and experiences. We have another lovely but very honest story from a host and sponsor.


How did you navigate the early days of hosting and what tips can you share?

The first days are very busy. We would recommend taking some time off work to allow you to welcome your guest properly. There is a lot of form filling and appointments to attend, but doing these together with your guest is a good ice breaker and a chance to get to know each other better.

How did you integrate your guest into the local community?

This will be an ongoing process and will take time. We have helped Maryna register at the local doctors and regularly show her around where we live so she can become familiar with her new hometown. We’ve also introduced her to our friends and family so she can build a relationship with them as well and have some extra support.

What challenges have you experienced along the way and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge was getting the Visa! But once Maryna arrived in the UK we’ve honestly not had any problems or challenges (yet!) It just works for us!

How have you dealt with any cultural differences or communication challenges?

Google translate has come in useful at times! We have also covered the contents in the house in Post-It notes to help with Marynas English, much to the amusement of people visiting us but overall Maryna’s English is very good and we’ve not struggled to communicate

Any final tips for future hosts?

Make sure you get to know your guest as much as you can before offering to host, to ensure you will be a good match. Make the effort to forge a strong relationship when they arrive. Accept that there will be mistakes or differences as everyone is different and for most people, this will be a very alien experience. Above all, enjoy the experience and involve your guest as much as you can in your life


How did you find the early days when you arrived in the UK? What challenges did you face?

It was not easy for me in the first days. Everything is unfamiliar, I do not understand the language, and my English is also incomprehensible to the locals. Everything is differently arranged. I felt like a little girl who needed to learn the world anew. My sponsors and I chatted a lot in messenger, and we communicated using Google translator the first time until we got used to each other’s accents. They treat me like a child, accompanying me at every step and explaining how people live here.

How did you adapt to living with a UK host – what were the main differences for you?

I would not say that I had any serious challenges since I am provided with the care of my host family as much as possible, who treat me like a parent to a child. I lack access to doctors and dentists. The system is a little more complicated than in Ukraine.

How did you settle into life in the local community?

We have a different mentality, but I try to treat the host family with respect and interest, respect their boundaries and lifestyle features, without evaluations, and they treat me the same way. We talk a lot about our cultural differences and commonalities. I cook Ukrainian dishes and introduce them to our cuisine, they introduce me to English cuisine and traditions.

Any final tips for anyone thinking of coming to the UK from Ukraine?

  1. do a full check of your health.
  2. buy in reserve the medicines you need and those that must be in the first-aid kit (pain reliever, absorbent, etc.). It is ideal to have basic medicines for different cases (drops, sprays, tablets)
  3. if minor operations are needed, it is better to do them in advance
  4. visit a dentist, treat all teeth, and do teeth cleaning.
  5. take warm socks
  6. it is better to put the hryvnias on a bank card and pay here with the card
  7. think about a gift for host family, something national and symbolic
  8. always have power bank
  9. a passport, a bank card with a safe amount, power bank and a phone should always be with you
  10. put all your documents in order
  11. do not be afraid to communicate with people and ask questions about everything that interests you
  12. we are different, and it is important to understand and respect other people’s borders
  13. believe in yourself and everything will work out for you. Always trust your intuition

Just to note: we are happy for the text of these posts to be shared with other groups if you think they are helpful, as long as they are shared accurately

"Sisters Stories" Is a series of discussion topics hosted by Sunflower Sisters on their private community group on Facebook.  Its a place where sponsors and guests reflect honestly and constructively on their experiences within the scheme. Their experiences will not always be plain sailing, but they will be real, and we make no apologies for the accounts in this series ultimately being satisfying ones! Some will be short and snappy, and others will need you to make a cuppa or pour a glass of wine and settle down to read, but we hope all will be insightful, interesting and perhaps give you something to think about. #SunflowerStories

The group is open to ladies only and is a support group for both sponsors and guests, you can take part in the debate by joining our private community homepage by clicking the button below.