“It was 5am on February 24, 2022 when we suddenly woke to the sound of a bomb”

Published: Thu 24th August, 2023

Charnwood continues to stand with Ukraine as the war-torn country marks 32 years of independence from the Soviet Union today (August 24). The Council is showing its ongoing support by flying the Ukrainian Flag at Loughborough Town Hall and its Council offices.

As part of Ukraine Independence Day, Charnwood Borough Council colleague Juliia has shared her experiences of finding refuge in England after fleeing the war.

Juliia supports Ukrainian refugees living in Charnwood in her role as an administrative support officer for the Council’s resettlement service. She helps people and families from Ukraine find homes, seek employment and support them with forming links within the local community.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Ukrainian individuals and families have arrived in Charnwood under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Other Ukrainian people have arrived in the borough under the Government’s Ukraine Family Scheme.

Juliia’s story

Juliia said: “It was 5am on February 24, 2022 when we suddenly woke up to the sound of a bomb.

“Until that moment my husband and I had lived a comfortable life in Kyiv with our young daughter. But in those first few minutes, everything changed.

“We packed a small bag and bought petrol for our car, but stayed at home while we worked out what to do next. The sound of gunfire was getting louder so we had no choice but to leave.

“We started a long and terrifying journey to Western Ukraine where we thought would be safer. There were bombs going off everywhere. When we arrived, we were constantly on alert and ran to underground shelters several times a day.

“We soon moved again. My husband headed back to Kyiv as like all young men, he was determined to fight for the future of his country. My daughter and I travelled the next part of the journey alone and stayed with a lady who had moved to Hungary from Newark in the UK.

“We eventually arrived at Luton airport in May 2022. It was very emotional but amazing to feel safe. We have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness, especially our sponsors. I call them our angels.

“My husband was able to join us in the UK earlier this year, so we are finally all together again.

“I have relatives in Russia however since the war they have ignored my messages and it makes me even more grateful for the help we have received here.

“Working at the Council in the resettlement team means I can help others to rebuild their lives. It was overwhelming at first as you are faced with lots of different types of difficult situations, and you want to help people as much as possible. Every family has their own individual needs.

“My message to those who have welcomed Ukrainians into their homes, lives and communities is thank you. I really hope that others will want to continue to help people like us.”