Hotel closes to tourists to offer sanctuary to Ukrainian refugees

  • Published
Related Topics
Nitsa Michael
Image caption,
Nitsa Michael said when she saw pictures of the Ukraine invasion she began planning how she could help

A woman who has run a seafront hotel for the past 60 years has closed her doors to tourists to provide a "home from home" for Ukrainians.

Nitsa Michael, 84, who runs the Seaward Hotel in Weston-super-Mare, left her home in Cyprus in the 1960's before her family fled in 1974 as Turkey invaded.

Based on her family's experience, she said she wanted to help Ukrainian people, when the Russians invaded.

Ms Michael said: "I felt for them... me and my family hope we're helping them."

The family reopened the seafront hotel, on Knightstone Road, following its closure during the pandemic.

Ms Michael said it made them "happy" as they "just want to help" the refugees.

Image caption,
The family is offering assistance to 60 Ukrainian refugees "of all ages"

Her daughter Michelle Michael said some people seeking help had arrived at the hotel using Google translate.

She said the family was very grateful some of the Ukrainians could speak English and said they had chatted with others over WhatsApp "just reassuring them so they know when they get here they're going to be safe and they're going to be taken care of".

Yuliia was one of the first refugees to arrive at the hotel.

She left her home in Berdyansk in south eastern Ukraine when the explosions started.

Image caption,
Yuliia left Ukraine and has moved into the hotel

She said: "On 24 February , it was very loud and very bright and I understood that it is war.

"I left a very bad situation because they haven't gas, they haven't heating and they haven't Ukrainian money because they can't pay with cards because they haven't internet", she added.

Michelle Michael said the family was grateful to local people for donating clothing, unwanted iPads and laptops.

"Together we've been able to contribute to hopefully a very good start for the refugees".

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: bristol@bbc.co.uk