Ukrainian Journalist Natalia Vlasiuk moved to Shrewsbury from Kiev, Ukraine in April 2022 under the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme - she got in touch with My Shrewsbury magazine to let us know about her new business 'Flower Decor' making Christmas wreaths for sale. She writes...
I was living with my sister, her daughter, and my mother in Kiev when the war started in Ukraine.
After Putin’s army began to bombard the city, we managed to stay in Kiev for just over 10 days. We experienced many bomb strikes, some only about 15 minutes from our home. The situation was difficult, it was dangerous to stay in the city and our friends recommended and encouraged us to relocate to a more carefree place in Lviv.
We left Kiev, initially for only for a couple of weeks, (or so we thought). But that wasn't the case. Shortly after we arrived in Lviv, the Russian army targeted the city with frequent bombing raids. What we thought would be a safe place, proved not to be the case and we waited for the bombs, never knowing when and where they would fall.
For myself, I knew I had to make the difficult decision to flee from the dangers in Ukraine and look to find a sponsor in Britain. I speak Ukrainian, Russian and back then I spoke only a little English, I did not know other languages. I have always loved Britain and dreamed of travelling to visit one day but I never considered I would find myself in the UK under the circumstance I found myself. Having made the difficult decision to seek refuge, as far as I was concerned, there was no question of choosing any other country.
Natalia has launched a business in Shrewsbury to help support herself - called 'Flower Decor' offering Christmas wreaths for sale
I was very lucky and quickly found a wonderful sponsor (Deborah) and her husband (Rob) in Shrewsbury. We met on Facebook and within a few hours Deborah had filled in my application for a Visa. My sponsor helped me with everything, completing applications and documentation, securing my visa, buying airplane tickets so I could fly direct to Manchester, booking a hotel for the night before my flight to and the UK, and providing me with constant support.
Going alone to a foreign country was an incredibly difficult step for me to take. I haven't travelled much in my life, and suddenly becoming a refugee was a huge challenge. Not only was I facing a whole new future in the UK, I was also taking a huge leap - putting my faith the support of my sponsor and the UK Government, and of course I had to come to terms with having to leave behind my beloved family, who have always been my constant source of love and support.
My sister made the hard decision to stay in Ukraine with her husband. We talk most days, thank goodness for social media, but it’s hard for me knowing they are not safe while Russia continues its attacks on Ukraine.
I am a journalist by profession. I have a master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations (PR). I've been working with social media for the last few years. But for my specialised area of work, you need excellent English, so for the time being, while I continue to improve my spoken and written English, I am exploring alternative work options and using my time to create handmade wreaths.
Shrewsbury is known as the Town of Flowers. While living in Kiev, I attended many floral master classes making Christmas and autumn wreaths for doors and tables. I love creating beautiful and unique wreaths, each one is individual and I take great pleasure in designing new looks based on clients wishes.
I believe creating beautiful things for your home, for friends, or as a gift, is such a worthwhile activity. In a world where too many people experience unrest, danger, and anxiety, I am creating something special, spreading beauty and joy; creating various sizes of door wreaths to welcome friends – old and new to your home.
I have created a Facebook page – FlowerDecor, my sponsors helped me create a website so that I can share my work with others.
I hope that my work will please many people.
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