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Refugee Week 2024: Vadym and Iryna's Story

21 Jun 2024

Living Well, Tenant news

The 17th– 23rd of June is Refugee Week. This event celebrates the resilience of refugees and people seeking shelter.

The theme of Refugee Week 2024 is Our Home, highlighting how home and community means different things to us all, especially for those fleeing their homes to escape conflict or disaster.

We wanted to share the story of one of our residents, Vadym and his late wife Iryna.

Image of Vadym and Iryna sitting on a sofa in their living room, smiling at the camera.

Vadym and Iryna arrived in the UK from Ukraine in 2022. They lived in a small village which saw devastating damage during the ongoing war. Vadym and Iryna were forced to flee from their beloved home and family. To make matters worse, Iryna was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after arriving in the UK.

Once in Wales, Vadym and Iryna stayed with a host family in Tredegar before being placed on the common housing register, and this is how we came to meet them.

Our Housing Co-ordinators Maxine Price and Janine Hawkins worked closely with the Housing team and Ukrainian support team at Blaneau Gwent Council to support the couple, and in October 2022, they moved into an apartment at George Parry Court, one of our Living Well Schemes.

There was a language barrier to begin with, but this was managed by using the ‘Say Hi’ app to translate any questions from Ukrainian to English and vice versa.

Maxine remembers when Vadym and Iryna were handed the keys to their new flat: “The look of happiness on both Iryna and Vadym’s faces when the keys were handed over is something myself and Janine will never forget.  They kept thanking us and I was covered in lipstick by the time they left.”

When residents of George Parry Court learned that Vadym and Iryna were moving into their new home, they wanted to know how they could help. Residents donated furniture, tinned foods, cleaning products, and kitchen appliances wired in by Celtic Horizons, so the couple could feel truly at home and settled.

A coffee morning was also held at George Parry Court to introduce Vadym and Iryna to their new neighbours, helping them to integrate into their new community.

While Iryna sadly passed away in October 2023, Vadym is still thriving in their new home. He is learning English and has connected with others in the community who have also sought refuge in the UK.