Shropshire Star

Ukrainian family living in converted chapel 'love beautiful Shropshire and its friendly people'

While the war in Ukraine continues people in the Shropshire countryside are claiming victory by having helped a family relocate happily into the local community.

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The family outside their chapel home

Iryna Sotnyk, aged 35, husband, Vitalii, aged 41, their two-year-old son Oleksandr, who is known as Sasha, and his grandmother Yuliia, aged 59, left behind a shelled home in Lyman in Ukraine's Donetsk region, an area which Russian troops used as a key logistic's hub, and have now settled safely in Stiperstones.

They have been overwhelmed by the love and friendship shown to them since their arrival on September 15.

The family's demolished home in Ukraine

The family is now living in the Stiperstones Methodist Chapel, a building dating from 1993 which has been transformed into their new home.

Since the end of regular worship several years ago the building had been used as a retreat centre for visitors staying in the area as well as for occasional services and meetings.

In March following prayers for families in the Ukraine money was raised and an ambitious programme began to convert the chapel into a home for up to six people.

The family's demolished home in Ukraine

The Rea Valley Methodist Churches, a group of eight chapels, including Stiperstones, as well as in and around Minsterley and Pontesbury, found that help, both financially and physically, flooded into the project.

Iryna said that the family thought that the Shropshire countryside was "beautiful".

She said: "We like this place and the people who are so friendly.

"Life is very different in Ukraine in all ways.

The family's demolished home in Ukraine

"In this country the Government thinks about people and their needs.

"Here older people have hobbies but in our country people do not and grow potatoes because they need to because otherwise they cannot afford them.

"Over here it is so beautiful and people are friendly and happy.

"So many people have been taking care of us and everyone says hello and asks how we are. It is really great."

Reverend Clare Sanders, a retired priest working voluntarily with the Hereford Diocesan Project and Citizens UK, helped identify the family needing help.

Reverend Richard Hall said: "We have shown what can happen when people commit themselves to pray and work together to make the world a little bit better than it was before.

"We are delighted to have been able to provide a safe haven for a family in desperate need."