Ukrainian families who fled Kyiv are welcomed with open arms at Sarisbury Green in moving scenes
Yuliia Beresneva, 33, her son Danya, 10, and daughter Anya, five, ran for their lives in the early days of the war as their home in kyiv was attacked by Russia.
They were joined by Yuliia’s friend Olha Sukhovii, 37, and her nine-year-old daughter Zhenya, as they sought refuge in Britain.
The two terrified mothers left their husbands in Ukraine to volunteer with the resistance fighting Vladimir Putin’s invading force.
And now, two months after leaving their Kyiv homes, the families are starting to rebuild their lives living with host families in Sarisbury Green, the children having been welcomed with open arms by a local primary school.
An emotional Yuliia, who was an auditor and risk manager in Ukraine, is full of praise for her host family – who asked not to be identified.
She said: “They are very nice and very supportive. They are empathetic. They cry with us when we cry.
“We feel so good because we know our children are safe. They can go back to school and can learn’
But she added it was difficult to speak to her relatives and friends still in Ukraine and said: ‘I want to be there to help but I know we have to stay here for our children because it is safe. They are the future of Ukraine.
Yuliia and Olha are the first of hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Hampshire after visa delays.
Their arrival at Sarisbury Green was supported by MP and Attorney General for Fareham, Suella Braverman – whose team personally intervened to support their claim for refugee status.
During an emotional visit to meet the two families, mother-of-two Ms Braverman burst into tears and hugged Yuliia and Olha.
Weeping, she said, “You are welcome here. You are part of our family. You will have security. The whole country wants to do everything it can to support you and help your children have a future.
Yuliia described the kyiv attack as frightening and added: “It was 5am and we could hear the rumble of bombs and the sirens outside.
“When the children heard the roar of fighter jets, they got scared. I was afraid too. We just knew it was such a bad situation.
“We stayed in Kyiv for two days and then left for a nearby village where we stayed for another two weeks. But the war did not stop. That’s why we went to another country. It wasn’t safe.
“We felt so bad. We only had one bag. Our whole life was in a bag.
A heartbroken Olha added, “We couldn’t believe the war could have started. We never imagined this could happen.
“Russians are not human. Putin is not human.
Although they are happy to be in the UK, both mothers say they are eager to return home to Ukraine when it is safe to do so.
Olha added that she has full confidence in Ukraine to push back the Russian army and said: “Ukraine is our home.” We believe in our people. We believe our people are strong. We will not lose.