'My children lost their life' - Ukraine parents on struggle to build new lives
PARENTS from Ukraine have spoken out about feeling isolated and finding it difficult moving to Worcester with their young children.
Many of their children have faced language barriers, making new friends and cultural differences within the education system.
One mother and lawyer, Oleni Klushmiki, told of the difficulties of moving to a completely new area with her two young children.
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She said: "My children lost their life.
"They lost their friends, and teachers, and moving over here was difficult.
"I wish all Ukraine people to be happy.
"We are reading abuse every day, and it is very hard being absent from Ukraine.
"But we must change our lives and have a life, and speak not only with Ukrainian people but with British people too."
After talking with headteachers across the Rivers CE Multi-Academy Trust, one recurring theme was that many of the Ukrainian families were isolated.
In a bid to battle this, Cherry Orchard Primary School, which belongs to the Trust, will host events which bring families across their schools to meet, connect and share their experiences.
Kate Brunt, CEO of Rivers Trust, said: "What we were feeling across the trust was that there were isolated Ukrainians in our school.
"I do think if you put me in a school in Ukraine - even as an adult - I would find it quite hard, and it must be frightening sitting there five hours a day thinking, what are you talking about?"
She added that one mother was particularly worried about her four-year-old son, who had struggled to learn English and adjust to reception.
"But as soon as he came in here, his eyes lit up because he is also able to speak to Ukrainians, and I think that's really important."
The school also offers pupils the chance to move between its schools, which makes it easier for families who are struggling to set up roots in the area they are in.
Chorii Iruna, a parent whose child goes to Cherry Orchard Primary, said: "When we arrived here, he knows we must write in English, speak in English and that we must be here because it is a safe place.
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"It is very hard, when you think about your child and providing shelter and education.
"His classmate in Ukraine spends three for hours a day underground - it is not normal for children - it is a terrible situation.
"But people here have been very nice to him, and he has gained friendships."
Karen Banford, the headteacher of Cherry Orchard Primary School, said: "It is a very social opportunity for children to play and talk in their home language and for parents who may not have met each other before, to give each other strength and build a community."