On the 21 February 2022, Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to enter Ukraine. After many months of tension and escalation, this was the day people had dread.
A year on, the war continues and the people of Ukraine still stand in defiance of the invasion. Putin’s “special military operation” failed, but the conflict continues as the struggle for Ukraine rages on. With many cities destroyed, families torn apart and no end in sight, those that fled early have to sit and watch as their country continues to defend itself.
In July 2022, the BBC reported at least 12 million people had fled their homes since the invasion began, with that number only rising since. That is 12 million people displaced. 12 million lives impacted.
The UK has created a number of schemes to allow Ukrainians to seek safety in the UK with many families now hosting Ukrainians in their own homes through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
Initially it was hard to keep up with the changing schemes and the focus was on preparing for arrivals and trying to keep people update on their best options. Here at RMC we were rapidly updating flowcharts as new guidance came out, trying to support those with family in Ukraine as to how they can seek safety and looking at how we can best help.
Meeting the needs
As things became clearer, our efforts moved to building the support available. Fundraising alongside the Wolverhampton mayors Ukraine appeal, and hosting a vigil to bring the community together. Alongside this our team were recruiting more Ukraine/Russian speakers for when people started arriving.
As our Resettlement & Integration team expanded, we were able to provide support directly to those on the ground, those arriving Ukrainians and the hosts they were staying with. We became a leading organisation in delivering Ukrainian support across the Blackcountry. Delivering our own support as well as working alongside community organisations such as the Razom Ukrainian Welcome Centre.
As with all of our resettlement and integration work, we tailored the support to each individual, to each family. English classes, host support, welcome packs, immigration advice and anything else people needed, RMC was on hand to provide.
To mark one year since the invasion, we spoke to some of those Ukrainians who have been through so much. Daria and Yelyzaveta have been supported by RMC since arriving. Inesa joined our team as a volunteer and helps provide vital support to others arriving.
The power of community
“Maybe a month or two and then I’ll be back home.” she thought.
A year later she has found a community that understands her in the UK. A community that shouldn’t need to be here, but that has come together to overcome the difficulties.
Living through war
“My brother survived, we lost our house, my boyfriend is on a war, I moved to another country… I never thought I’d be in this scenario. Now I adapted and don’t cry every time when people ask me how you’re doing. “
The war must end
“It’s sad, we probably shouldn’t have adapted to this but what else can we do?”
After going back to visit her family in Ukraine recently, Yelyzaveta experienced the worst of the war as well as seeing how people have adapted to survive.
A huge thank you to all of them for sharing their stories with us. Their stories stand as a clear reminder that we can not forget, as with any tragedy like this, and people still need support.
RMC have been at the forefront of resettlement and integration support since the original Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme which was launched back in 2015. Our support varies across programmes, but includes pre-arrival, initial support & local area inductions, English Classes & Employment support as well as wrap around support to access benefits & healthcare and immigration support.