Opening doors

  • 29
  • Jun

Islington is a warm and welcoming borough and has opened its arms to immigrants and refugees for many, many years. Our response to the crisis in Ukraine has been no different. Many residents have invited those in need into their homes – including Leonie, who welcomed Ukrainian refugee Anastasia in May 2022. They tell IslingtonLife their story

Anastasia grew up in Dnipro, central Ukraine. She went to high school there and worked in economical training, as well as taught English online during the pandemic. When the invasion began in February 2022, Anastasia knew she had to leave. The aggression and stories from across Ukraine were hard to hear and very frightening. She began a long journey across Europe, taking buses, trains and finally a flight to the UK for the last portion of the two-month journey, where she met Leonie.

Leonie is an Islington resident and signed up to become a host on the recommendation of a mutual friend. Leonie, understandably, initially had her reservations: she lives alone with her two children and wondered about the impact that inviting a stranger into her home might have. After thinking on it for a few days, speaking with Anastasia and connecting with her, Leonie applied to officially become a host.

Since arriving in Islington in early May, Anastasia has explored her local area a lot. She loves the trees and greenery in Islington, and regularly visits Whittington Park. Anastasia enjoys the birdsong that happens every day here, a reminder to us all to listen out for our beautiful wildlife.

Before arriving in Islington, Anastasia had never been to the UK, and she says for most Ukrainians it would be very difficult to get here. The availability of shops, bars, parks, and social spaces at every corner is something that she loves about Islington. “London is huge!” she says with a smile.

Anastasia’s piece of advice for anyone else arriving from Ukraine to the UK is: “Give yourself some time. Everything here is very new, but everyone is so welcoming. Be sure that if there is something you need help with, someone will be able to give it.”

For anyone who is thinking of hosting a family but is unsure, “follow your heart,” says Leonie. “There may be many reasons that are holding you back, but you have got to look inside yourself and think what you can do. You won’t regret it!”

To find out more about how you can support refugees, visit the council website

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