The founder of an Old Kilpatrick charity has been praised for opening her foodbank for a family displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Maureen Cummings, who started Old Kilpatrick Food Parcels (OKFP) during the pandemic, decided to step in to help Ukrainians Natalia and Aleks and their three boys after they had been living in a Travelodge since they arrived in West Dunbartonshire last week.

She began making the family up a food parcel full of ingredients only to realise they couldn’t use it as they were living in a hotel room.

Although being extremely grateful to the council for helping them out, all the family wanted was a home-cooked meal – and that’s when Maureen offered to help.

She said: “I tried to put myself in her position (Natalia), to find myself in another country, with three wee boys, nine, five and one, who just want their mum’s lentil soup or something like that because everything they get here is so foreign to them.”

Maureen decided to ask Natalia to make her a list of ingredients needed to make a traditional Ukrainian meal and then went out and sourced the foods before opening the OKFP Chatty Café kitchen specifically to the family so they could get cooking.

And Maureen and her family then joined them for dinner and were treated to some homemade borsch.

“It was just fantastic. To cook dinner, the smile on her face was worth a million pounds,” Maureen added.

The family are originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and one that has come under relentless shelling from Russian forces since they invaded in February.

After fleeing their homes and their lives they made it to Croatia, where they stayed with friends for four months until they received their UK visas.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: Natalia worked as a travel agent in UkraineNatalia worked as a travel agent in Ukraine

Back home in Ukraine before the war, Aleks was an engineer, building fibreglass speedboats, and Natalia was a travel agent.

The family are still learning the English language after having never spoken it before, but Maureen admitted that didn’t stop her husband and Aleks from finding something to talk about.

She continued: “The guys managed to have guy talk, and they found the common subject of football.

“Aleks wants to go to a stadium, so my husband is going to get him tickets for a game at Ibrox.

“Natalia is hopefully going to come to do some volunteering here at the OKFP, which will help her English and build her confidence.”

Followers on Facebook were quick to applaud Maureen’s kindness.

One wrote: “So incredible to see all their beautiful smiles, such a wonderful family.

“Such a great idea to open up the space and allow them to have valuable family time.”

Another commented, saying: “Oh that is such a special thing you did for this lovely wee family once again Maureen you’re simply the BEST.”

Maureen and the team at OKFP are now planning on opening her facility to other Ukrainian families and hope they can come together to talk, prepare dinner, and let the children play with others.