JCB properties in Uttoxeter are being made available and the first family has already moved into a JCB house in the town.
Nataliia Stepanenko has been welcomed to the property with her children Diana, 21, and Denis, 16, as her husband Serhii, a JCB Sales and Service Support Business Manager in the Ukraine, remains in Ukraine after being conscripted into the army.
Greeting the family on their arrival was food, clothing and toiletries donated by JCB employees to help them settle into their new home.
Now up to 70 more refugees are also set to be welcomed to JCB properties over the coming weeks and months with JCB International House in Uttoxeter – a former Travelodge owned by JCB – being prepared for a large number of families.
The initiative is being spearheaded by Anthony and Carole Bamford. Today JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “No-one can fail to have been moved by the human suffering caused by the conflict and offering a home to Ukrainian families is the very least we can do. We stand ready to offer as much help as we possibly can.”
Nataliia Stepanenko today described how at dawn on February 24th, her family woke in their apartment close to the city of Boryspil, near Kyiv, to the sound of loud explosions. With the threat of air raids, they packed essential belongings and fled to the safety of the underground railway station.
“About 1.5 hours before the curfew started, we then decided to leave Kyiv in a south-easterly direction to our relatives in the Kyiv region and spend the night there”, Nataliia said.
“We did not even try to go west, since a lot of people went in that direction and there was a huge traffic jam on the roads. The next day my relatives called me and suggested we stay in their house in Western Ukraine in the city of Chernivtsi.”
“Our whole journey from Kyiv to the Chernivtsi region lasted four days and on February 27th we arrived there on the same day that Russian troops reached Kyiv and the front line was just 10 kilometres from our home.”
At the end of March Nataliia took the decision to take up JCB’s offer of a home and arrived in Uttoxeter earlier this month.
“Now we live in the beautiful town of Uttoxeter,” she said. “JCB has provided us with a comfortable home and all the things we need to live. We are very grateful to Lord and Lady Bamford and the JCB team for their support and care for us.”
Nataliia’s daughter Diana has taken up work experience in JCB’s Industrial Design Department at the World HQ in Rocester, Staffordshire. Meanwhile her husband Serhii continues to serve in the army while also trying to work to support JCB dealers and customers in Ukraine.
Among those on standby to help with the JCB re-settlement project is Rocester-based Ukrainian employee Viktor Melnykevic, who has worked for the company for 12 years.
Viktor, who works on the production line in the backhoe loader business unit, has volunteered to translate the welcome packs being prepared for refugees being hosted by JCB.
He said: “I was very happy to help. I was touched by the overwhelming way in which JCB is trying to help people forced to flee Ukraine. I have always liked working at this company and it has gone up even further in my estimation now.”