How Ukrainians are adapting to Britain one year on while knowing their home will ‘never be the same’
‘It’s not my home… but I’m making a new life here’: One year on from Putin’s invasion, how Ukrainians living in UK are adapting to Britain – while knowing their country will ‘never be the same again’
- Ukrainian refugees have spoken out about life in the UK – but miss their home
- ‘Home as I remember it does not exist anymore,’ Yuliia Kuznetsova said
Ukrainians living in the UK have shared their feelings about life in Britain one year on from Vladimir Putin‘s invasion – and say their home country will ‘never be the same again’.
The world paid tribute to fallen heroes on Friday as Ukrainians vowed to fight on to victory, while Russia said its forces were making battlefield gains in the east as its invasion entered a second year with no end in sight.
Twelve months on, many who fled Ukraine still don’t know when they will return and what ‘home’ will be like if they do.
Yuliia Kuznetsova, 25, told the BBC: ‘It’s like there is a life before and after, there is nothing in between and life as we knew it ended on the 24th.
‘It’s never going to be the same, it’s never going to be even close to what it was before. I do miss home but at the same time I realised that home as I remember it does not exist anymore.’
Speaking of his experience of moving to Britain, Nikita Vikhorev added: ‘It’s not my home, not my country, but I’m making a new life here’.
Violinist Nikita Vikhorev avoided being conscripted as the London Performing Academy of Music brought Ukrainian students to the UK
Nikita says his mission is to use his music to help people to care about Ukraine.’
Violinist Nikita avoided being conscripted into the army as the London Performing Academy of Music (LPMAM) brought Ukrainian students to the UK, offering them bursaries and providing military exemption.
But his father is a soldier fighting in Ukraine – and his mother and sister also remain in Kharkiv.
He described his violin as his ‘weapon’ and said his mission is to use music to help people care about his home country.
Julia Sviatenko, 40, fled her home town Kyiv with her 16-year-old son Arseniy and after a three day journey they arrived in Ayr, Scotland, last April and have been living with sponsors.
Back home she worked as a psychologist and taught at the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University – and now she works for Barnardo’s charity.
She told the Daily Record she has found the UK a ‘wonderful’ country where she has been met by kind and incredible people who have offered support.
But despite this, she will always miss her life back home.
‘As soon as it is safe we want to move back to Ukraine,’ she said.
Yuliia Kuznetsova, 25, said: ‘Home as I remember it does not exist anymore’
Julia Sviatenko, 40, praised the support she has received in Scotland but still wants to move back to Ukraine when she can
‘Scotland will always be our second home but we do miss our previous lives.’
Anna Matiunina, from Ukraine, and her husband James Gibson, who lived and grew up in Kilmarnock, Scotland, before moving to Ukraine, were both also forced to flee.
They left Ukraine on the second day of the war – packing up their lives in ten minutes in time to get a ride with friends.
Anna, 37, has managed to get a job teaching jazz dance to children but says there are many things in her new life she still needs to adjust to.
However, Anna says the most important thing she wants is peace for Ukraine and for separated families to come together again.
Anna Matiunina, from Ukraine, and her husband James Gibson
Young refugees discussed fleeing their homes and coming to Britain
From left to right, Nikita Vikhorev, Yuliia Kuznetsova, Arina Koroletska, Oleksandra Shuliatieva and Andrii Barannik all fled home in Ukraine