Ukraine war: Leeds man praises Airbnb as he donates to Kyiv hotel feeding the city's residents

A Leeds man who has donated to a Kyiv hotel serving food to the city's residents has praised the "network of empathy" provided by Airbnb.

By Abbey Maclure
Friday, 11th March 2022, 4:45 am

Customer services manager Paul Sutton, 48, has pledged to donate to people in Ukraine every month that it's needed, adding that there are "so many people on their side."

Campus Community A-Hotel is using donations coming through Airbnb to serve food to the city of Kyiv, as staff continue to work through air raid sirens and military attacks to deliver 15,000 meals a day.

Staff have used the $30,000 (£22,830) donated through the hotel and home rental service to keep their kitchen open and cook food for military personnel, hospitals, orphanages and nursing homes in Kyiv.

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Campus Community A-Hotel is using donations coming through Airbnb to serve food to the city of Kyiv (Photo: Campus Community A-Hotel)

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Paul said: “We’ve booked four nights, with a promise that when I get paid on the 15th, I’ll be putting another donation in – and we’ll keep on going every month if we need to,” the customer services manager said.

“It’s brought a lot of people close together and for them, I hope it’s reassuring that they know so many people are on their side – not just political and military (people), all the rest of us.

“While the air raid sirens are going off and while they’re feeling scared and alone, this global community erupted to help and I’m a very, very, tiny part of that.”

The hotel's staff have cooked food for military personnel, hospitals, orphanages and nursing homes in Kyiv (Photo: Campus Community A-Hotel)

One of the hotel’s owners, Artur Gabovich, said he is “very grateful” for the donations from people around the world and that the hotel staff will “never give up” working to provide the city with food.

Artur, 50, said: “It shows big support for our country, for our people, and for what is going on.

“People are booking rooms, and they consider it a donation because nobody will come to a hotel right now – of course, we’re in the centre of a war.

“God bless, we are not touched by any bombs or rockets but we are in the centre of the city, so it’s a very good location (to send food from).”

The hotel is situated in a “big complex” above a bomb shelter, where Artus said an internet company has been able to set up online education for children in the shelter.

“When the (sirens start), people can easily go downstairs and stay safe in the bomb shelter,” he said.

“The guys from the internet company are doing a great job. They support all the connection so teachers from one shelter can teach children in another shelter.”

The rooms at Artus' hotel cost just £7-£10 a night and those who book for a stay are contributing to the cost of meals, medicine, and shipment fees to transport the food around Kyiv.

Their long-term goal is to be able to set up a website people can use to transfer money directly, and the hotel can begin using donations to support the military further.

“For example, the army need a lot of infrared vision devices,” Artus explained.

“Not guns, but helmets. We would like to buy some bulletproof vests, some tents… plastic carpets with which you can lie on the ground when it’s cold so they don’t get cold.”

Paul said he is in communication with the owners of A-Hotel and has promised to visit when it is safe to do so.

“We’re keeping those lines of communication open and speaking to (staff) this morning, the conversation was, ‘When this is all over, please come across and come see us’ and we’re like, ‘Yeah, absolutely’,” he said.

“We’ve never previously considered Kyiv a holiday destination but we’ve made a friend out there in a very difficult time for them.

“It’s absolutely the intention that once this is all over, even if it’s to go help rebuild, we want to go across and meet these wonderful friends without faces that we made and celebrate.”

Artus stressed that it is “a big lie” that Ukrainians have been in any way harmful to Russia.

“I have never felt any harm from the Government, from anybody, against Russia,” he said.

“The idea of Putin is to get Europe – if he can take Ukraine, he will then conquer Georgia, the Baltic states… and he will stop only when he has covered at least half of Europe.

“We have to stop this, and that’s why we’re asking for more help.

“The whole city, people are ready to fight to the end. And we will not surrender.”

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