Ірина Корнєєва

Iryna, 37, left Kyiv along with her young sons, Tymofii, 10, and Seva, 7 months. Her sponsors, Elizabeth and Scott, gave the family a new home in Chippenham, Wiltshire. 

Here Iryna tells more about their journey so far.

Since late May, we have been living in Chippenham, Wiltshire. It is very comfortable for me to live with our host family, which, of course, is entirely thanks to Elizabeth and Scott. They are very thoughtful and do everything they can to make my life, and especially the life of my children, as comfortable as possible.

Not only did they provide us accommodation, they prepared all the necessary things for the youngest child, Seva: a cot, a pram, a bathtub, clothes, toys, etc. They helped with all the paperwork: from buying a SIM card to registering with a GP. They devoted a lot of time to our eldest son, helping him get used to the new conditions. In addition, they helped to arrange a school for Tymofii and are always ready to entertain my younger son in order to give me some rest.

leaving home behind

Just before the start of the war, my husband and I welcomed another boy and we became a family of four. We were living in Kyiv and getting used to the new way of life with the baby.

On February 24, Seva and I were supposed to visit the doctor for the first time but instead we heard explosions and the city was surrounded by Russian tanks. We decided to leave Kyiv and go to our relatives in another city, Kremenchuk. At that time, we did not think that the war would drag on for a long time, so we only took enough things for the near future. 

We stayed in Kremenchuk for about a week, after which my husband began to push us to go abroad. The decision to leave was hard: we knew that I would be alone with the children, travelling to a foreign country and living with strangers.

The hard road to Poland

We left on 4 March by car and drove more than 1,500 km. The journey took us five days. I had to drive the car myself as there were no other drivers and during breaks I fed my child. In Poland, friends put us in touch with a married couple who were ready to take us in. We are very grateful to Halina and Juliusz for the cordial welcome and for not even wanting to let us go in the end.

In search of a new home

After two months in Poland, we thought that we should take the next step. In Ukraine, it was still unsafe and even worse than it had been at the time of our departure.

Therefore, we decided to apply for the UK ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme, which guaranteed a clear scheme for providing benefits, as well as safety and good conditions for children. In addition, an attractive culture and our knowledge of the language were important factors for us. Thanks to the organisation BHSU, we were able to find sponsors and complete all the paperwork quite quickly.

My children and I flew from Wroclaw on a Wizzair flight, with the company providing free tickets, thankfully. We were met at London Luton Airport by our sponsors Elizabeth and Scott.

Our life in England

I can’t imagine my youngest child growing up in a bomb shelter, waiting out air raids there, and my oldest going to a school that could be hit by a missile at any time. I’m glad we came here, and we are so lucky to have our sponsors!