'Arriving with one toy': MP to welcome Ukrainian refugees to Norfolk home

Anna and her son Sviatik

Anna and her son Sviatik will be living with North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Courtesy of Duncan Baker

An MP will be welcoming a Ukrainian mother and her son to his home, as the first of almost 500 refugees matched with people in Norfolk begin to arrive.

But North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker will have to wait a little longer to meet Anna and her six-year-old son Sviatik in person - as he is having to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19.

Mr Baker and his wife Nina signed up to the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme and, through a friend of a friend, were put in contact with Anna and her family.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker has been getting an increased number of dog theft reports. 

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Archant

The Conservative MP had been due to drive to Stansted to collect Anna and her son on Sunday morning.

But his positive Covid test means his wife and one of his daughters will go to greet them after their flight from Warsaw, and to bring them back to the family home in north Norfolk.

Mr Baker said he and his family have had Zoom meetings with Anna, who works as an English teacher near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

He said: "I received details about them from a friend of a friend and we had conversations about how we could help them.

"It's all happened quite quickly. Over the space of about a week we've spoken in Zoom meetings and heard about what they've been through.

Most Read

"It was a harrowing story. When we first spoke to Anna, she had not seen her son for two months because he'd been staying with his grandparents in Melitopol.

"That's not far from Mariupol, which we know was suffering very badly from Russian attacks.

"She was very, very upset and we said we would do what we could to help.

"After that first call, I just wept, because you think about what these people are going through.

"We started a friendship on Zoom every night. Her husband, who works as a botanist at the university in Kyiv, made a dangerous trip from there to Melitopol to rescue him and get him out."

Anna's husband has remained in Kyiv, but she and Sviatak made the seven hour journey to Lviv and then to Poland, to fly to the UK.

Mr Baker said: "Sviatak is arriving with one toy. One toy - can you imagine that? It's heartbreaking.

"It will be my wife who is going to be doing the lion's share, as I'll be in London for four days of the week, but we felt, as a family, it was important to do this for someone else.

"This is going to be a life-changing experience for us, but there has been such an outpouring of support and I hope we will have a friendship which will last for ever."

Mr Baker said his daughters - aged six and 10 - were keen to make Sviatak, who can only say a handful of words in English, welcome.

He said he would have to wait for negative test results before he could physically meet his new lodgers as he is isolating in one room of his home.

"We will have to talk through the doors and windows for now", he said. "But I'm looking forward to meeting them face to face when I can."