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Family renovate home to take in disabled refugee

The Porter family
The Porter family Image credit: kentonline.co.uk

A couple from Dover are spending thousands of pounds out of their own bank account so they can accommodate a disabled Ukrainian refugee and his family.

Gareth and Gemma Porter applied on the government website earlier this week as volunteers to take in families from the war-torn country.

After registering online they were matched with a family who fled Ukraine and are now staying in Calais until they can cross the border to England.

Roxy, her partner, her mother and brother Roman, who uses a wheelchair, escaped Kyiv the day Russia invaded their city.

The two families have already been introduced to each other on an emotional video call on Friday set up by Care4Calais, it won’t be long until they can meet in person.

After the paperwork has been completed, which is expected to take around two weeks, they can travel to the UK and live with the Porters.

Mr Porter has six children, four of which are still living at home.

“I’d like to think that somebody would look after my family if it was the other way round,” he told Kent Online.

"This will be their home for as long as they need it.

"They might become part of the family.

"In which case, we’ll build an extension.”

The 40-year-old dad, a project manager for an Ashford construction company, is doing the renovation himself renovating his home to make it fully accessible ready for Roman and his family.

“We Facetimed on Friday and it was quite emotional. They were crying which was hard to watch,” he told the publication.

“We asked what their needs were and all they asked for was somewhere they could shower and an area for Roman to sit on the floor so he can play with his cars. That’s all they asked for.”

The Porters are receiving help from families and friends who have donated bedding and toiletries, there’s also a friend who owns a mobility vehicle which they say can be used to whenever it is needed.

An emotional plea from holocaust survivor Steven Frank asking people to take in Ukrainian refugees was projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover last weekend.

Frank said: “Every single person you see in the news stories about Ukraine is a human being, just like you, with hopes and dreams. But for the lottery of birth, it could have been you forced to flee for safety with your family.

“I should know, it happened to me.”

Over 100,000 Britons signed up to host a Ukrainian refugee within hours of the Homes for Ukraine scheme went live.