Ukrainian refugee welcomed to his new home in Poulton
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Max Fox, 32, who lives with his partner, welcomed Vlad, 26, to the UK as he landed at Manchester Airport on Friday.
Mr Fox met Vlad while he was in Poland helping with humanitarian efforts – he submitted an application to bring him back to the UK on March 18 and put the Ukrainian up in a hotel until the application was successful.
“Well it was just a definite relief,” Mr Fox told the PA news agency.
“It’s been quite torturous the past week. So to actually get him here and to kind of close that chapter and (move) onto the new chapter, that was nice.
“It was a nice feeling for sure. But there’s still work to be done.”
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, anyone in the UK with a spare room or home can register their interest in hosting someone as long as they can offer accommodation for at least six months.
Mr Fox, an artistic director for a group of hotels in Blackpool, made contact with Vlad – who was in Poland when the government enforced conscription – online before the pair met in person in Krakow.
“Initially, I went with kind of a motto that I need to make sure that I’ve got a connection with somebody, because I don’t want to have somebody in my home that I don’t have that initial connection with,” he said.
“But as soon as I met him, even before speaking to him, I just saw the desperation in his eyes, and I knew that I needed to help, so he was the one.”
Mr Fox said his cockapoo and Vlad – who does not speak English – immediately struck up a relationship before the Ukrainian fell asleep.
“(The dog) has actually really taken to Vlad, as soon as he arrived they built this relationship,” said Mr Fox.
“I think because of the language barrier it’s good for him to have the dog.
“We’ve come back to the house and he’s gone straight to bed. He’s literally just woken up now.
“It must have been absolutely exhausting.
“And God bless the vulnerable people, and the elderly, and the children that are having to live under those circumstances right now. It’s heart-breaking.”
Mr Fox, who is planning to continue volunteering and to use the money he has raised, meanwhile said he has already been told of potential job opportunities for Vlad.
He encouraged others with spare room to “be human and offer it if you can” stressing that Poland is reaching capacity.
“Poland is at capacity. It’s going to sink very, very soon,” he said.
“You can’t just take one country and put it in another country and expect everything to be okay. It’s just not achievable.
“Anybody that does have a spare room, just be human and offer it if you can. If you’ve got that availability and you’re comfortable then go for it.
“Take that risk, because to help somebody else is the biggest achievement.”