Travelling on a double decker bus and playing croquet among the highlights
Viktoriia with her daughter Gold at the beach
February 24, 2023
A mother and daughter from Kyiv are finding much to be positive about despite being force to flee their country due to Russia’s invasion.
33-year-old Viktoriia and her nine-year-old daughter, Gold moved in with a local Hammersmith family in September. They are among 500 Ukrainians, including 146 children, who have moved to the borough as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme in which residents welcome displaced families into their home.
One year after Russia’s attack, Hammersmith & Fulham continues to welcome Ukrainian refugees.
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.
Before arriving in the UK, Viktoriia and Gold first travelled to Germany.
Viktoriia explained, WWe 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.
“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, who worked as a TV presenter, model, and actor in Kyiv added, “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.”
Since arriving, Gold has started at a Shepherd’s 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.
Gold is one of 63 Ukrainian refugee primary school pupils in H&F. In total 76 refugee pupils have received a state school place. The council has also provided school places for 13 Ukrainian refugee children from neighbouring boroughs.
Watch the video of Viktoriia talking about building her new life in H&F on YouTube.
“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.”
Leader of H&F Cllr Stephen Cowan (left) with Ukrainian refugee Viktoriia (right)
Are you interested in hosting a Ukrainian refugee family? If you want to join the council’s Homes for Ukraine scheme or are interested in learning more about how you can help those arriving in H&F, visit this dedicated webpage, email UKRS@lbhf.gov.uk or call 0800 012 1577.
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