Powys Ukrainian Oral History Project and Beacons for Ukraine

The project has been coordinated by Beacons for Ukraine and professionally recorded at Henderson Hall in Talybont on Usk by As You See It Media, based in Crickhowell.

The recordings will be permanently sited on this website as well as on the Powys County Council, PAVO and Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) websites. They will also be widely shared through social media.

Beacons for Ukraine is an informal network of hosts, Ukrainian refugees, volunteers and supporters covering South Powys. Together, working alongside HBTSR, we provide information and advice, advocacy, signposting, networking opportunities, community links, peer support, social gatherings and friendship. Two WhatsApp groups have also been established: one for South Powys hosts and one for local Ukrainians. New members are always welcome.

For further information please contact Rhiannon Davies. m: 07940 961006 rhiannon.aber@btinternet.com or Olha Kotseruba, m: 07377 1106446, olha.kotseruba@gmail.com

Chapter 1 – When the war began

We begin with Maryna Korolova and her son Marko Korolov. They recall how, unlike many Ukrainians, the war for them started a lot earlier in 2014, and how after starting a new life away from the conflict in the Donbass, they found themselves fleeing Russian forces once again.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part1_ Maryna

Kateryne (Kate) Medvedieva, hosted by Liz Daniel, recounts the morning they awoke to the sound of explosions nearby.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part2_Kate

Alina Popovychenko, hosted by Anita James, recalls how the war started for her and her son Artem, and how her world stopped.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part4_Alina

Olena Polischuk and Yurii Hyrka tell us how the war began for them and the confusion of not knowing which way to turn or what to do.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part5_Olena

Iryna Franchuk and her daughter Alona, hosted by Amanda Williams, share what they left behind in Ukraine.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part6_Iryna

Olha Kotseruba, hosted by Paul and Kate Silk, gives us her account of how her family was split with her husband deciding to stay and fight for his country.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part7_Olha

Olha Kotseruba’s daughter Solomiia (10 years old) recounts her side of the story, the start of the war, leaving Ukraine and her father behind, and adjusting to a new life in Powys.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part8_Solomiia

We rejoin Maryna and her son Marko as they tell how they tried to flee to Poland, but ended up having to stay in Ukraine, with Maryna giving birth to her baby as missile strikes hit its major cities.

Audio – UOH – C1_Part9_ Maryna

Chapter 2 – Leaving Ukraine

Olena and Yurii talk about the decision to leave Ukraine in search for safety.

Audio – UOH – C2_Part1_ Olena

We rejoin Iryna and Alona, now deciding to leave their home behind and find safety outside of Ukraine.

Audio – UOH – C2_Part2_Iryna

Alina and her son decide to seek refuge abroad. Alina tells us how she came to meet her host, Anita.

Audio – UOH – C2_Part3_Alina

Olha found herself alone with her two children in a small flat. She tells us how she first encountered Paul and Kate Silk.

Audio – UOH – C2_Part4_Olha

Chapter 3 – Becoming hosts for Ukrainian Refugees

Liz Daniel who hosts Kateryne and her family talks about why she wanted to help a stranger from over 1,500 miles away.

Audio – UOH – C3_Part1_Liz

Anita James who hosts Alina and her son Artem talks about deciding to help, and meeting Alina over video-call for the first time.

Audio – UOH – C3_Part2_Anita

Diana and Patrick Windsor Brown talk about deciding to help Olena and Yurii’s family, and what reservations they had.

Audio – UOH – C3_Part3_Diana/Patrick

Amanda Williams who hosts Iryna and her family, talks about her decision to help, issues with visas and putting her concerns aside to help people in need.

Audio – UOH – C3_Part4_Amanda

Chapter 4 – Coming to Powys

After 14 hours of travelling and flying from Moldova, Olena, Yurii and the children arrive in the UK for the first time and talk about the relief of being somewhere safe after making a huge life-changing leap of faith.

Audio – UOH – C4_Part1_Olena

Liz and Kateryne remember when Kate and her family first came off the plane, and an eventful first night’s sleep in Powys.

Audio – UOH – C4_Part2_Kate

Alina and Anita recall the moment they first met after Alina drove her and her son across Europe.

Audio – UOH – C4_Part3_Alina

Chapter 5 – Powys answers the call for help

Rhiannon Davies talks about how a support network was built for Ukrainian refugees and how Beacons for Ukraine was formed.

Audio – UOH – C5_Part1_Rhiannon

Dr Greg Langridge-Thomas, Ukrainian Resettlement lead and Cllr Matthew Dorrance, Deputy Leader, Powys County Council talk about when the war started and how a Welsh council decided to help.

Audio – UOH – C5_Part2_Greg/Matthew

Jacqui Griffiths an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher talks about how she became involved in the collaborative effort to assist Ukrainian refugees coming into Powys.

Audio – UOH – C5_Part3_Jacqui

Ailsa Dunn, Secretary and Trustee of Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, talks about being faced with a new stream of refugees and the challenges in providing reality checks for potential hosts.

Audio – UOH – C5_Part4_Ailsa

Leanne Bowler, founder member of Crickhowell Support Ukraine, now known as Beacons for Ukraine, talks about living in Ukraine before the war and coming back to Powys and creating a network which grew organically from the ground up on social media.

Audio – UOH – C5_Part5_Leanne

Chapter 6 – Adapting to a new life in the UK

Maryna explains how she and her young family came to the UK and how the community supported them and they began to thrive.

Audio – UOH – C6_Part1_Maryna

Olha and her daughters flew into Heathrow, where their hosts greeted them. Along with her hosts Paul and Kate Silk, Olha talks about how she and her two girls were supported and adapted to a new life, a new school, and a new home.

Audio – UOH – C6_Part2_Olha

Kateryne talks about the support she was given by Liz and how she helped her integrate into a new community. 

Audio – UOH – C6_Part4_Kate

Host Amanda Williams along with Iryna and her daughter Alona talk about adapting to life in Powys, new schools and settling into their own home in Crickhowell.

Audio – UOH – C6_Part5_Iryna

Chapter 7 – Host and Refugees reflect on the last year

Anita reflects on taking in Alina and her son, and what she and her family have gained from the experience.

Audio – UOH – C7_Part1_Anita

Diana and Patrick have now hosted Olena and her family for almost a year, they talk about what they have gained from having them in their lives.

Audio – UOH – C7_Part2_Diana/Patrick

Paul and Kate Silk reflect on their time hosting Olha and her two children, what they have gained and learnt from being hosts, and how it has affected the whole family unit.

Audio – UOH – C7_Part3_Olha

Chapter 8 – Powys support network reflections

Dr Greg Langridge-Thomas and Cllr Matthew Dorrance of Powys County Council talk about how the Council adapted, and with the benefit of hindsight what they would have done differently in response to the crisis.

Audio – UOH – C8_Part1_Greg/Matt

Leanne reflects on how the support for the refugees grew and how as a network they have built something that will last forever.

Audio – UOH – C8_Part2_Leanne

Jacqui reflects on the challenges she faced and how the experience has affected her personally.

Audio – UOH – C8_Part3_Jacqui

Rhiannon talks about how she has seen people rebuild their lives and how this experience has affected her personally.

Audio – UOH – C8_Part4_Rhiannon

Chapter 9 – Hopes for the future 

Iryna and Alona talk about the future when much for them and their old life in Ukraine remains uncertain.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part1_Iryna

Olha hopes that one day she and her daughters will be reunited with their father and can take much of what they have learnt from the UK to Ukraine.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part2_Olha

Much like Olha, Olena and Yurii hope to return to Ukraine one day and help rebuild their country with the valuable experience that living in the UK has given them.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part3_Olena

Liz and Kateryne discuss the next steps, and how the support Liz has given the family so far will be here as long as they need it.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part4_Liz

Alina, like many, wants to return home one day and show Anita and her family her own life in Ukraine.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part5_Alina

Maryna thanks everyone who has supported her and her family in rebuilding their lives.

Audio – UOH – C9_Part6_Maryna