A British Cypriot owned Somerset hotel featured on BBC Breakfast has become a safe haven for Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion.
Its owner, Cypriot-born Nitsa Michael, who arrived in the UK from Cyprus in the 1960s has offered up all of its 54 rooms to the refugees.
Michael said she saw the pictures of the refugees fleeing the Russians and felt compelled to act partly because of her own family’s history as many of her relatives also became refugees when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. She remembered how her own family had fled with nothing.
“They left with T-shirts and flipflops, they had nothing with them as they thought they were going back the next day, and it’s been 48 years and they’re still waiting to go back. So, when we heard about the Ukrainians myself and my family decided to help if we can.”
Refugee Yuliia Herasymenko, who left her home in south-eastern Ukraine when the explosions started was one of the 60-year-old hotel’s first free residents.
The Seaward Hotel in Weston-super-Mare has been inundated with donations and its rooms are full of items ready to be used. Michelle Michael, Nitsa’s daughter, said that people had been using Google translate to find their way to the hotel and ask for help.
Michael said she has English-speaking Ukrainians to help her. “They are really helping us with speaking to people on WhatsApp and over the internet, just reassuring them that when they get here, they’re going to be safe,” she said.