Due to the continued bombing and destruction experienced by Ukrainians in the Russo Ukrainian war, many citizens are being forced from their homes and country to live abroad. Many of the younger Ukrainians have moved to European cities in neighbouring countries and Western Europe. Much of the child population of Ukraine along with families have been forced out of their country. The journey’s from war torn Ukraine to London have seen stories of great courage. 

Among the young Ukrainian’s who have left the country, are children and teenagers in hope of security and progression. Since the 21st of June, the Home Office reported that a total of 135,900 visas had been issued – 43,200 through the Ukraine Family scheme, 92,700 through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Many of these Ukrainian’s have moved into accommodation with families in the UK. 19 year old student and Olympic school athlete from Ukraine, Liliya, who I now share house with has told me her story and of her journey to Redbridge in Greater London from Mariupol Ukraine. “I started living in Kiev in a basement after I left Mariupol, I than moved from Kiev to Poland through a family connection. My parents found a connection after three months of staying there. This helped me find a place for my future. My friends helped me find a sponsor and I applied for a visa to the UK after 4 months. I stayed in a hostel for a few days.” 

Her journey here was not swift and nowhere near convenient. As a student athlete, her progress has been disrupted and adjusting to life in London has been difficult for her. Her trips between athletics school in Ruislip and home in Redbridge are long. Although she states that studying here is easier apart from English class. Training in athletics she states that her training is “less regular, more competitive and more crammed in sessions” in comparison to her Olympic training in Kiev. Her training has been disrupted by the war. Liliya has represented Ukraine on multiple occasions in the long and triple jump on an international stage. She hopes to return to her former strength and compete again.

UK residents can register as named sponsors for Ukrainian refugees wishing to come to the UK. Sponsors undertake to provide free accommodation to a Ukrainian individual or a family for a period of at least six months. Some UK refugee organisations are establishing strategic partnerships with counterparts in EU countries to facilitate larger groups to come to the UK, where local UK organisations can provide them with accommodation.

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