A kind-hearted ice hockey player has helped 10 Ukrainian families find a home in the North East – one of which he is hosting himself.
After watching the horrors of the Russian invasion unfold on his television screen, Richard Jardine knew he had to do something to help. The 42-year-old, whose son Oliver, 12, plays for the Whitley Bay junior development team, used his ice hockey contacts to help connect Ukrainian children who play ice hockey and their families with those in the Northeast ready to help.
After reaching out to local rinks and clubs, the ice hockey community responded in the most amazing way by opening their homes. Ukrainian children were also invited to play ice hockey at the Whitley Bay rink so they could continue doing what they love while making friends.
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Richard, from South Shields, said: “I was watching the news like everyone else and I heard people were struggling to adjust to families. I sat down and thought maybe I could -be doing something about it. I play ice hockey and I’ve contacted rinks and clubs on Facebook and now it’s snowballing.
“These kids will be able to come here and play ice hockey. It’s just about giving them something they know. Ice hockey is a tough sport, the kids are very motivated and engaged and it’s likely that they will want to come back to do what they love.
“It’s also about them making friends and integrating into the community so they can live some sort of normal life.”
Richard has now helped find homes for around 10 families in the North East, with many Ukrainian families already knowing each other through ice hockey. The dad also opens his house to welcome a mother and her two sons, the eldest of whom plays ice hockey, who are currently in Hungary.
He is now urging others who are able to help by opening their homes to those in need saying there are still people “in need of a safe place to live”.
The dad said: “We have now helped 10 families in the area and many of them know each other and when they get here they will see someone they know. With ice hockey there is no there is no language barrier and everyone gets along. .
“I connected with my family on Facebook and we are just getting to know each other. One of the benefits of all this is that even if they are on the side of the road, they will still be able to be contacted by Facebook groups .
“There are still people out there who need housing, a safe place to live. These people have nowhere to go. They didn’t ask for this, it was forced on them and it’s women and children we’re talking about, no one should go through this.
“It’s awful when people have to hide in basements while bombs are falling on them. I never thought I’d see anything like this in my life.”
If you want to get involved, you can visit Homes for Ukraine Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, Newcastle Upon Tyne Facebook page here.