Providing a place of gathering and hospitality

10th June 2022
Jess McManus Church Warden of Christchurch in Clevedon, together with her husband and daughters, is preparing to host two sisters from Ukraine. They’ve begun learning Ukrainian, and have made changes to their  in their home ready for the arrival of their guests; not only that, Jess has helped set up a café at Christchurch so Ukrainian families and their hosts can get together regularly.
“It’s a free space for Ukrainian people who’ve come to the area to meet and make friends. Also, as a new host myself it’s really nice to chat with people who are already hosts and some who are thinking about it. The first week we had around twenty people, which included young children and teenagers, the second week we had thirty-five people join us. I can ask them if they’d like tea and coffee in Ukrainian which is fun.”
Revd Clive Jennings Vicar of Christchurch said, “Jess and the whole team are overjoyed that we can provide this place of gathering and hospitality every Friday and already enquiries are coming in from other host families in the wider area who would like to join.”
Meanwhile Jess and her family are preparing for the arrival of their guests. Two sisters who are twenty and twenty-five will join them this month. When they first thought about becoming hosts the family got together to discuss it. Their two young girls were very supportive, and happy to share a bedroom so that a room could be offered to a family in need. After registering on the government website they reached out on Facebook to offer a place of safety to those who wanted to escape the conflict in Ukraine. 
Jess said, “If I were in their shoes, and it was me and my children that were desperate to find somewhere safe, I wouldn’t care where it was as long as we were safe.  Understanding what I would want if I were in that situation, how could I not offer that to another family?”
Jess and her family chat to the young women regularly on the phone and she has already arranged for them to have job interviews when they arrive, “I know it will be tough for them as they have left their parents, grandparents and brother behind.”
If you are hosting a Ukrainian family in the North Somerset area and would like more details about the café, please email Jess, Revd Clive Jennings, or Kathryn McManus-Jones
Photo - Jess and the cafe team
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