Following our pledge to support Ukrainian refugees as they arrive here in the UK, we are honoured to have Vadym join our team.
Vadym arrived in the UK, having fled the war, and we have worked closely with the local Itchen Valley Parish Church to make him feel as welcome as possible in the local community and at Jude’s.
Vadym and his family have asked if we would share their story... which is our privilege to do.
But his journey to this point has been incredibly difficult. Before the war, Vadym lived with Valentyna, his wife of 35 years in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine and worked as head of security for an IT company. That all changed on 24th February when they awoke to the sound of shelling and their apartment block shaking.
Vadym, Valentyna and her sister immediately left their homes and travelled to their summer house which has a basement, a well with fresh water and felt safer than their flat. For the first few days of the invasion they stayed there while trying to decide what to do. As the invasion came closer and the explosions it became clear they needed to head west and began their journey to join their daughter, Yulia, and her family in the UK. This meant driving from Ukraine's eastern border across the width of the country, around 700 miles.
The journey was not easy with bumper-to-bumper traffic, petrol shortages, curfews, army checkpoints and the constant threat of Russian attack hampering their journey. After traveling for three days they reached Ivanno-Frankivsk, in Western Ukraine where their life had some semblance of normality.
They stayed with old friends and took time to rest and think about next steps. They monitored news of the border crossing times to work out which border was best to cross. They decided to leave via one of the smaller border crossings and after queuing for around 7 hours they crossed into Poland at around 9.30pm on Sunday 6th March.
Once in Poland a volunteer drove them to the city of Rzesow, where they were reunited with their daughter, Yulia and 2 year old granddaughter, Frances. The family then travelled on to Switzerland to apply for a UK visa where the queues were not so long. After 10 days in Switzerland Vadym's UK visa was granted and the family arrived in Southampton airport on 19th March - over 3 weeks from the start of the invasion.
Vadym and Valentyna are now living with Yulia, her British husband Tom and their two grandchildren Oscar (6) and Frances (2) in Winchester. Vadym is very happy to be in the UK and spending more time with his grandchildren, but hopes to return to Kharkiv as soon as possible to help rebuild. Leaving Ukraine was not an easy decision and his heart aches for his country and his fellow Ukrainians each and every day.
Vadym enjoys sports, including football, fishing and chess. He is enthusiastic about new experiences and meeting new people. He is very grateful for the support he and Ukraine have been shown by everyone he's met in the UK.
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