Lincolnshire couple rent entire Polish hotel to host Ukrainian refugees

Jakub and Gosia Golata are using the hotel as a hub for refugees so that they can be placed with host families. Credit: Jakub Golata

A couple from North Lincolnshire have hired out an entire hotel in Poland to help refugees from Ukraine.

Jakub and Gosia Golata, from Barrow upon Humber, have teamed up with the Polish arm of the Sue Ryder charity to take over the Park Hotel Tryszczyn near Bydgoszcz, where Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion can stay while they are placed with local host families.

Mr Golata, 42, said he was keen to take immediate action because help was not getting to the right places quickly enough.

He said: “We cannot carry on keep drinking tea and thinking about the crisis – now we’ve got hundreds of thousands of people exposed to potential abuse and sleeping rough.

“We need to act now.”

Mr Golata, who works on the HS2 rail project as a logistics manager, and his came to the UK in 2004.

Mrs Golata, a serving officer with Lincolnshire Police, is currently on sabbatical while she cares for her mother in Poland.

Both are now in Poland to help the humanitarian effort.

Jakub has been picking up refugees from the border and bringing them to the hotel. Credit: Jakub Golata

Initially, Mr Golata drove a minibus eight hours to the border, picked up refugees and found friends and family who were happy to host them, but felt he needed to do more.

He said: "I came up with this idea that if I would be able to rent an entire hotel and place these vulnerable mothers and children in a hotel, and then allow them to settle, feel safe, looked after and be able to come to terms what’s happening, then that that would be the best thing.

"And that would also allow me to find the local community volunteers so they can be taken care of a bit more."

He received backing from his bosses at Skanska in the UK, who contributed funds as well as giving Mr Golata time to work on the project, and also linked up with the Polish arm of Sue Ryder to help with fundraising.

The refugees being housed in the hotel are being placed with host families in the local area. Credit: Jakub Golata

Mr Golata found a 180-bed hotel, which had closed because of the Covid pandemic, that was happy to be involved and then used his own money to help them get running again and prepare for the arrival of the refugees.

He then drove a 48-seater bus to the border where he picked up a number of families fleeing the violence and brought them to the hotel – focusing particularly on those from eastern parts of Ukraine where much of the worst of the violence has been.

There are currently 55 refugees being looked after in the hotel.

He said: "It's quite stressful, there are only very few volunteers that can actually spend a full time with is.

"The majority of the refugees that are stopping in our hotel, in our refuge, which have some problems; either medical or they need some mental support.

"They need basic logistics - taking them to shops, buying them some clothes, so it's really busy."

Gosia said: "We are getting refugees that are more and more traumatised, as the situation in Ukraine gets worse and worse."

She added: "We are doing what we can to make them feel safe here but we can't do it on our own - the more funds we have the more we can help them and give them a roof over their heads.

Once at the hub, he aims to match the refugees with local households who are happy to take them in for a longer period.

They will continue to provide whatever support they can, even once the refugees have moved on.

"This refugee hub basically provides the refugees safety and security that should the Polish family not be right for them or vice versa, they’ve got the refugee hub to go back to," he said.

"t’s a risk reduction and also a support for both, so much as we are worrying about the refugees we are also worrying about the adopting families because they also need support."

Ultimately he hopes the hub will be taken over by the government and the model replicated in towns all over Poland, where more than two million Ukrainians have fled so far, according to the UN.

But for now, Mr Golata is working to do his bit in helping with the “huge crisis”.

"We need financial support now so we can protect the vulnerable families from human trafficking, from any form of abuse – that’s why this is needed now.

"Later, governments will step in and people will settle and things will be much better, but now we are in this huge crisis."