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Ukrainian refugees living across Newark and Sherwood district share their stories as the Russian invasion to Ukraine marks two years





From weddings and jobs to home and family, refugees have shared their stories of being forced to flee war to mark the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The war broke out on February 24, 2022, triggering huge upheaval and heartache for millions of people who had to leave all they knew behind to start a new life.

Hundreds of refugees came to Newark and Sherwood under the government’s Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Olena Sinjelʹnikova
Olena Sinjelʹnikova

But what can be considered a refugee success story? One where someone achieved, learned and thrived, within all the chaos and pain.

Here are the stories of four people who managed to escape their country, left their loved ones behind, managed to thrive and still do each day, in the hope or dream of what was once called home.

Serhii and Olena on their wedding day
Serhii and Olena on their wedding day

Serhii Titomyr and his girlfriend, Olena, were on holiday when war broke out and haven’t been able to return to Ukraine since they first moved to Newark in June 2022.

The couple, who got married in the UK, went from living with their sponsors when they first arrived, to having their own home in Farndon and full-time jobs.

Serhii used to work in logistics back in Odessa and found a job in Newark where he could apply his working skills and continue to do a similar job as to the one back in Ukraine.

“Odessa is being bombed constantly and missiles and drones are hitting residential buildings all the time, nobody is safe there.

“It is not easy not seeing my family but we speak almost every couple of days and thanks to Messenger I can video call my family and friends.”

Serhii Titomyr
Serhii Titomyr
Serhii Titomyr and wife Olena
Serhii Titomyr and wife Olena

Serhii got a full UK driving licence within the past year and has made sure to let his musical talents not go to waste as he often performs at open mic nights across the town.

“I play the guitar and sing so I like to take part in open mics and I got to know many amazing musicians here.

“I feel like my language is improving all the time and I started learning some expressions and know more about accents.

“I do miss going out with my friends and chatting with them as most of them are all over Europe and the world but I think that I will stay around for at least a couple of years, and then we will see.”

Olena Sinjelʹnikova, 39, arrived in the UK in August 2022 with her two daughters and lived with a host family for nine months before moving into their own house in Flintham.

“I am here only with my children, my husband stayed in Ukraine, and so did my family and all of my friends.

“Everywhere in Ukraine is dangerous because every day there are sirens and attacks, it is always a different place and no one knows where it will be next.

Olena Sinielnikova of Flintham
Olena Sinielnikova of Flintham
Serhii Titomyr.
Serhii Titomyr.

“It wasn’t very difficult to me to adapt to living in the UK, maybe because I have a strong and brave character and I am responsible for my children.

“From the first day, I realised that I am an example for my children and I must be strong and brave for them.”

Olena, who has studied English in school and is studying at Newark College, has completed a business administration course and is now working in Newark.

She used to be a lawyer in Ukraine. She was a civil servant and worked in a civil office registration as the deputy head of a regional office.

“I had a good career, a good position in my country but I left everything behind for my children. They are the most important thing in my life, I only want their safety and happiness,” said Olena.

Olena Sinjelʹnikova
Olena Sinjelʹnikova
Olena Sinjel’nikova's daughters with their host family
Olena Sinjel’nikova's daughters with their host family

She added: “I miss my family and my life because Ukraine is my motherland.

“The best thing about having moved here is the people I have met. People are friendly, attentive, and polite and I received so much help from people and the host people I lived with.

“They helped me move, gave me things for my new house, and here I never felt alone or that no one cared about me. “

In the future, Olena is looking at staying in the country for her children to continue their studies and succeed in life.

“Normal life in Ukraine will take years and years, it will not happen straight away.

“Even if it will be our victory, for example, today, doesn’t mean that tomorrow everything will be fine and we can come back to living a normal life.

Valentyna Malomuzh working as a doctor
Valentyna Malomuzh working as a doctor
Valentyna Malomuzh
Valentyna Malomuzh

“I try to be independent here and I will continue to study and learn the language because one of the most important things here is being able to communicate with people.

“I am much happier now because I can see the results of my efforts – all my studies, I got a job, I completed a course, it is like my own victory.”

Valentyna Malomuzh was at a medical conference for three days in Western Ukraine when the war started.

She was a doctor in Ukraine and her son went with her to the conference, but when the war broke out, their city was occupied by the Russians and they never had the chance to go back home.

They went to Poland to live with some friends for a month before hearing about the UK government’s scheme and moving to Newark to start their new lives.

She said: “I thought it was going to be for a short time, that I would be back home soon.

“I was checking trains every day but there were none for my city, it was under Russian occupation.

“It was difficult to move mentally because I was not planning on immigrating anywhere but I did it for the sake of my son and his future.

“I am very grateful to the family that invited me here with my son, they were a wonderful family and have helped us all this time from the first day and are now helping us find housing and adapt in Britain.”

Valentyna Malomuzh's house in Ukraine
Valentyna Malomuzh's house in Ukraine

Valentyna used to work in a private practice and did ultrasound diagnosis. However, due to the language barrier and despite owning international certificates in ultrasound diagnosis, she is unable to get the same job.

She is currently studying at Newark College and volunteering for the NHS. She would like a job as a sonographer in the future.

“I think my future might be better, I like studying, I studied all my life. I don’t think about bad things, I like to be positive and be happy.”

“I am happy that my son is happy. I like travelling around the country, a lot of places in the UK are beautiful.

“I had a house in the suburbs and now it has been bombed. I also had an apartment in the city centre that was robbed by the Russians. I have nowhere to return to, so our house now is here. My family is me, my son and our friends who helped us.”

Valentyna Malomuzh
Valentyna Malomuzh

Having lived in Newark when he first moved to the country, Yaroslav Korin, 25, moved to Nottingham in November 2023.

He first moved from Obukhiv, Ukraine to the UK on April 27, 2021 with his ex-partner, Mary, leaving his family and friends and his job as a manager at a real estate agency.

They lived with their sponsors in Barnsley, before moving together to a one-bedroom flat in Newark.

Yaroslav said: “Newark is a small town but enjoys life. I would say Newark is one of the best place to live after 40, you have everything you need.

“I like to think positively in life and now I just need to adjust myself a little bit better, but I am happy.

“Back in Ukraine I miss my job the most, here it is a little bit more complicated to get into the same job,” said Yaroslav.



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