Free lunches and British borscht: what is the friendliest city for Ukrainians in England

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Free lunches and British borscht: what the friendliest city for Ukrainians in England

The picturesque town of Crowborough in East Sussex sheltered 53 people from Ukraine. In total, 1130 Ukrainians live in the county, who were settled in 496 houses, and 325 school places were allocated for Ukrainian children.

Thousands of Ukrainians were forced to leave their homeland and seek asylum in the West, including in the UK. British journalists from The Guardian talked to Ukrainians who came to a small town in East Sussex to find out how they settled in a foreign land and suggested that the “green” town of Crowborough is the most hospitable place in England for Ukrainian refugees.

Since the beginning of the war, 1,130 Ukrainians have arrived in East Sussex. In March, the country's Interior Ministry decided to go to their aid: the refugees were settled in 496 different houses throughout the county, and 325 school places were allocated for Ukrainian children. At the same time, the number of Ukrainians may increase to 1,580 people, observers note.

The story of Inna and Vadim

53 people from Ukraine live in Crowborough. The journalists of the publication visited one of the families that lives in the town to find out how they got to the UK and how they settled in a new place.

Vadim and Inna with two children settled in the mansion of the parish of All Saints and before telling their story they fed the guests with borscht, but, as the hostess admitted, the Ukrainian dish turned out in the British manner, since the local beetroot is different from the Ukrainian one, and you can’t get it in the city at all fat.

Free lunches and British borscht: what is the friendliest city for Ukrainians in England

Inna and Vadim came to the country with their children, 13-year-old Sofia and five-year-old Daniel. The man could not be allowed to pass at the border, so the family had to be nervous. As a result, Vadim was let in because his wife, Inna, has a disability.

Sitting in an embroidered shirt, the couple spoke about their life in Ukraine. They lived in an apartment on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, not far from the destroyed cities of Bucha and Irpin. Early on the morning of February 24, they were awakened by the sound of explosions as the first Russian missiles fell on the city. The doors and windows of their apartment were shaking and rattling, so they moved into the underground parking lot, where they spent the next three days.

“It was very cold. We were shocked and confused. We did not know what to do next,” — Inna admitted.

“My mouth was dry from stress. It was very difficult to leave home, the children were crying. I grew up in this apartment, I was born there and lived there for 40 years,” Vadim said, showing photos of your family.

Vadim and Inna speak good English. They found the government-supported program “Houses for Ukraine” on Facebook and told the coordinator that ideally they would like to live together with Christians, close to church and school, without expecting much. Twenty minutes later, the coordinator connected her with a certain Jenny Rees, and they began to correspond.

Jenny and her husband Steve from Crowborough responded to the problem of the Ukrainians.

“Hospitality is what we do as Christians: we open our homes and share with people what we have. We saw the horrors of war on the screen and felt the need to do something. We had a room; we knew that it might not be easy, but we decided it was the right thing to do,” says Steve, who serves as a curate at All Saints Church.

The next problem faced by Ukrainians is British visas. According to Jenny, getting a visa was “incredibly difficult, since it took an hour and a half for each application.” But, finally, Inna, Sofia, Daniil and Vadim received visas, crossed the Polish border, flew to Stansted Airport and got by train to Crowborough. Steve picked them up from the train station and brought them to the stately 18th century vicariate.

“We thought, 'Wow, we're living in a museum!' Now I'm telling everyone – we're in heaven among the angels here. Wonderful place, wonderful people,” says Inna.

Vita from Kiev and her daughter Polina

Vita Chukhno is from Kyiv. With their daughter Polina, they lived not far from a military base, which came under attack in the first days of the war. Rockets fell near their house – buildings were destroyed, people died.

Free lunches and British borscht: what is the friendliest city for Ukrainians in England

” Everything has stopped in Ukraine I didn't see any opportunity for Polina's development I came here to lead a normal life It's strange now but I feel guilty because I'm safe here and there are a lot of people in Ukraine who are not safe “, Vita admits.

Her husband stayed in Ukraine and now she is worried, because he can be called to the front at any moment. Vita said that the family that adopted her is sympathetic and kind, and their dog is friends with Polina. But Vita's future is in question. According to her, everything in her life froze, because she didn’t know what to expect, especially considering that she lives here without a husband.

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