A woman’s drive to support families exiled by war

Kate McCarthy-Booth

Kate’s support for dispossessed Ukrainian families coming to the UK was driven by her own experiences of dealing with the traumas affecting young children. As a Mum to Josh (13) and Charlie (9), Kate had to change her way of parenting when Josh was diagnosed with developmental trauma as a result of grief and loss. That parental development journey taught Kate about trauma, attachment and how to support parents and children during difficult times.

“When the Ukrainian War started I wanted to do something; I felt as a Mum that I couldn’t sit back and not do anything, I thought about the trauma, attachment and horrific scenes that those children and parents had experienced and I felt that I wanted to offer any support I could”

That support started by getting supplies to the front line in Poland, then finding a family to come and live with them (who they still support). From one family to assisting over 80 people find sponsors in the area, financing their flights and completing all the visa forms. Kate even sent out a rescue team for one family trapped whilst on holiday abroad.

“This experience made me realise how frightened families were and that made sense, many tears have been shed through supporting these brave amazing women who put themselves second and their children first, leaving their families, husbands fighting to find safety in a stranger’s home”.

Realising more needed to be done, Kate set out to establish up a place of safety, a place of shared support, somewhere where they could express how they felt and was a constant, not a drop in, not just for practical support– so the Ukrainian Family Hub Warrington was born.

Very quickly it was a big undertaking, providing welcome packs, support for sponsors, translation services, language lessons, clothing and toys. The Hub now has 12 coordinators and over 50 volunteers, providing liaising with schools, getting school places, helping with new babies, furniture, celebrating Ukrainian traditions, every child’s birthday and at Christmas an individual present for each child – moments of happiness during a time of trauma.

“It is my time that I have given but I have had so much back and on Sunday when I stood with one of our mums whose home was bombed that week, I realised how much we have done and continue to do and how many people we have touched and changed their experiences and lives. The context they give me is inspiring and very grounding”

The campaigning Kate and her team have done and contacts with council and MPs has changed policy, improving access to English lessons, homes and renewal of visas as the war in Ukraine continues.

Kate will be sharing her story at the Inspiring Women awards lunch on 17/5/2024