Shropshire Star

Plans to transform church approved as Ukraine family's prayers answered

Plans to convert a church into a home for Ukrainian refugees have been retrospectively approved.

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Lesley Holder and Derek Rowson helped transform the church

A family's prayers were answered by churchgoers from Stiperstones Methodist Church, who transformed the place of worship into a a warm and welcoming home.

Work began in May this year as volunteers prepared the church for a grandmother, husband and wife, three-year-old boy and their cat, who travelled from the war-torn eastern area of the country, where 80 per cent of their village has been destroyed by bombs.

Shropshire Council's Southern Planning Committee has now formally approved the temporary transformation of the facility. It had to go before the committee because a councillor - Heather Kidd - effectively acted on the applicant's behalf.

She told the committee that the family has been in the church for around a month after lengthy delays in sorting their visas.

"They have been delayed because of Home Office requirements. It's been pretty torturous for them. Your support (for the application) would be welcome."

Councillor Hilary Luff said: "I'm very much in support of this. I think it's great that a community has come together to support a family."

The committee unanimously approved the application.

When volunteers were renovating the church, Lesley Holder, from the church group, said: "We had prayer meetings and collections for the people of Ukraine but really felt that we wanted to do more and so we decided to help in a more practical way.

"The process of finding a Ukraine family was long and difficult but we have been lucky enough to have had a Zoom meeting with one particular family who were happy to live out in the countryside. We have invited them to come to our building, which they were over the moon about, and are currently applying for visas.

"They are now living in a one-room bedsit with an aunt. The family arrived at their aunt’s house with the clothes they stood up in, their cat and their car and they will not have much more than that by the time they arrive at their new home."