Ukrainian refugee Nina P, aged 66, fled the bombing in Kiev. Nina is now safely settled in Barnet. Her daughter Lara is a resident of Barnet, she tells us about Nina’s experience.

Lara, tell us about what happened?
Me and my husband have been living and working in North London for six years. My mother, Nina, sister and her husband have lived in Kiev all their lives, then when the war broke out in Ukraine in February this year everything changed. On the fourth day of Russian bombing, my family fled their home with just 20 minutes notice, only taking their documents with them. They got to the railway station and took a train to Poland. The journey was terrible with so many people trying to escape. It was very sad and upsetting.

They stayed for a month with their family in the capital, Warsaw, and then decided to come to the UK on 20th March this year. My mother came to stay with me in Barnet. My sister and her husband went to stay with his family who live in Sheffield.

How did you manage accommodation and finances for your mother?
We live in a small one-bedroom flat that we rent in the private sector. When my mother arrived, she slept on a mattress in our kitchen-diner. There was no privacy and living together was very tight. After one month, I applied for pension credit for my mother as she is retired. 

When did you get in touch with Barnet Homes?
After we were told she is eligible for pension credit, I asked Barnet Council if they could help us house my mother. They put us in touch with Esther, Housing Needs Officer at Barnet Homes. Esther asked us for paperwork, I completed the forms for my mother, as she can’t speak any English. Within a week, they said that my mother is eligible for housing benefit and so we could start looking for a small private studio flat in Barnet near our apartment.

How did Barnet Homes’ lettings service, Let2Barnet assist you?
Let2Barnet have a list of agents and landlords and we were taken on some viewings by an agent. The first property was over half an hour away, we were told we’d be lucky to find something in London, as most properties in our budget are outside London. We told the agent that because of the language difficulties for my mother she would really struggle being so far away. He asked where we lived and by some miracle, they said they had a suitable studio flat right next to our flat! Esther helped us with the affordability and suitability information and then we signed the contract. Now my mother lives very close to me in her own small place, and she can visit us whenever she wants, and when I’m at work she goes for a stroll to the local park. I’m so happy because she’s happy.

My mother is praying for Ukraine. Of course, she’s missing the country where she has lived all her life. It is a difficult situation, and she feels awkward about this.

Our Housing Needs Officer, Esther is a very nice lady, she was very friendly and very understanding and helpful to my mother. I would like to thank everybody in Barnet Homes for helping us. They have been so wonderful!

Esther, Housing Needs Officer from Barnet Homes, said,
“It’s a pleasure to work with customers to prevent or relieve their homelessness. And when customers like Lara and Nina express their appreciation, it makes my role more gratifying. I was very happy when Nina’s wishes for accommodation within walking distance to Lara’s flat became a reality. Due to the high demand for housing in Barnet, we always try to manage customers’ expectations. I was concerned when she and Lara expressed her wish and thought it might be extremely difficult to make it happen. I’m glad I nominated her for the property that led to her being offered her current accommodation, and I hope she remains settled.”