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Ukrainian mother-daughter duo start a new life in H&F

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Image captionImage 1: Leader of H&F Cllr Stephen Cowan (left) with Ukrainian refugee Viktoriia (right)

One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hammersmith & Fulham continues to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the borough.

This crisis has displaced thousands of Ukrainians. In response, residents across H&F joined the Homes for Ukraine scheme and opened their doors to 500 Ukrainians – including 146 children.

One family who arrived in H&F through the scheme is Viktoriia, 33, and her nine-year-old daughter, Gold, from Kyiv. The pair moved in with a local Hammersmith family in September.

Watch the video of Viktoriia talking about building her new life in H&F on YouTube.

“When we arrived, we were so excited to be here. We sat on the top deck of the bus and Gold said she felt like a princess,” said Viktoriia, who worked as a TV presenter, model, and actor in Kyiv.

Before arriving in the UK they first travelled to Germany. “We had some trouble because I was travelling under my own surname, the one I use at work, and my daughter was travelling under the name she shares with her father. I wanted to leave as soon as the war started, but it took a long time because of all the paperwork.

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Image caption: Image 2: Viktoriia with her daughter Gold at the beach

“My father and my brother have stayed behind and are fighting to protect my country. And my mother is still teaching maths, without electricity or water. She’s currently teaching in a gymnasium. I’m proud of them all. It’s stressful because most of the time people in Kyiv don’t have lights or a phone signal, so you don’t know what’s going on,” Viktoriia explained.

Read a report about Viktoriia's journey in the Evening Standard.

Back to school

Since arriving, Gold has started at a Shepherds Bush primary school in Year 4. She’s one of seven Ukrainian pupils who have joined since the invasion. “I’m so happy my daughter is here and safe,” added Viktoriia. “She’s going to a good school and has made lots of friends.”

To help support her learning Gold takes part in daily phonics class with her Ukrainian classmates. They also have dedicated time to chat as a group and talk with a counsellor. Most excitingly for Gold is that in PE she gets to play croquet, an uncommon sport in Ukraine. “She always tells me how excited she is to play it,” her mum said.

A keen reader, Gold is trying hard to learn English so that she can get back to reading books suitable for her age. The hard work is paying off. “She understands so much more than when we arrived, the school are very helpful with her English studies,” Viktoriia said.

Space for everyone

Gold is one of 63 Ukrainian refugee primary school pupils in H&F. In total 76 refugee pupils have received a state school place. We have also provided school places for 13 Ukrainian refugee children from neighbouring boroughs.

“The war in Ukraine has destroyed the homes and lives of innocent people and children,” said Cllr Rebecca Harvey, H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Community Safety.

“Everyone is welcome in H&F. We are proud to provide refuge, work with our community and support so many of our residents who opened their homes to welcome families and children in desperate need of a safe, secure home and shelter at a time of crisis. As a compassionate council we will continue to provide peace and security to residents fleeing conflict and to help them to make H&F their home. It’s all part of our work to build a stronger, safer, kinder borough.”

Can you help?

Are you interested in hosting a Ukrainian refugee family?

If you want to join our Homes for Ukraine scheme or are interested in learning more about how you can help those arriving in H&F, visit our dedicated webpage, email or call 0800 012 1577.

Or, to find out about the support on offer for Ukrainian refugees, visit our webpage.

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