Refugee who fled Ukraine for Nottinghamshire cried as family were liberated

Zhenia Myronenko speaking at a demonstration in Sneinton Market, Nottingham
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

A Ukrainian woman who fled to Nottinghamshire after Russia’s invasion has spoken of her relief after her family was liberated after seven months under occupation.

Zhenia Myronenko is among an expected total of 1,478 people due to arrive in Nottinghamshire through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.

Local authorities are granted financial support by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to support the rehousing of refugees.

Nottingham alone has welcomed more than 300 refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The city council has now accepted an extension to its funding under the programme.

Ms Myronenko had been living in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and arrived safely in the UK on June 11.

She had spent two months at a refugee camp in Galeria Plaza, Poland, a shopping centre-come-refugee shelter.

Here she was informed of the UK Government scheme and, after a successful visa application, was set up with a family in Cotgrave.

“It has been really helpful,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“The problem with renting in Poland was people wanted a contract for a year. It is difficult to rent a place because people say it is too risky.

“That’s why the scheme here was so helpful. I plan to ask my sponsors to continue the accommodation through the winter, they have been great.”

Ms Myronenko’s family, however, were unable to flee safely.

Her mother, father, sister and niece live to the south in Kherson, which sits along the Dnipro River.

At the beginning of March, Russian forces captured the region and held it under their control, leaving her family trapped for months.

Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in August and on November 11, Russia withdrew its forces from the Kherson area.

“Yesterday my mum called me for the first time in three weeks,” Ms Myronenko added.

“Our soldiers brought them a link for internet and she was able to call me.

“It was a shock. I cried. I was afraid to believe it was true.”

Nottingham City Council says it is expected the conflict in Ukraine will continue for the next 12 to 24 months “at least”, with numbers forecast to rise to more than 400 refugees in the first 12 months.

As such the council has accepted an estimated £5m in funding to cover a three-year period for the continuation of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, delegated decision documents state.

The Government provides funding at a rate of £10,500 per person to councils “to enable them to provide support to families to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into communities”, the Labour-run authority says.

Councils are also able to provide an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 for the sponsoring household, but only if they are not charging their guest rent.

Some of the money will go towards the creation of four fixed-term jobs in the council, in addition to two existing posts, to support the operation and co-ordination of the scheme.

Altogether £224,000 has been budgeted for the job roles, funded by the Government grant.

Ms Myronenko says she is now searching for stable employment, and welcomed funding for the scheme that allowed her to flee to safety.

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