In troubling times it’s often the most unlikely of friends, or indeed complete strangers who step up to help out. That’s human nature at its best and that’s the story behind REAL Jobs for Ukraine. It’s the success story of how a combined effort helped some amazing people who fled the conflict in Ukraine to follow a new path (and a new life) in their chosen professional field here in the UK.
When Russia attacked Ukraine on the 24th February 2022, the news hit every single front page around the world. As we all scrolled through our news feeds, watched the images unfold on our television screens and started thinking about the wider implications of a world superpower laying siege to its neighbour, the reality began to sink in; we were watching history unfold and we were 1000’s of miles away. We saw people run for their lives, leaving behind all they knew and loved, and as much as we wanted to help, the question was how?
Along with hundreds of thousands of others in the UK, REAL Jobs’s MD Tom and his partner Valentina decided to get involved and offer their spare room on the UK Government’s homes for Ukraine website. They weighed up the disruption this might cause to their own lives and the challenges they would face, but decided that to do nothing was far worse. So they signed up on the ukrainetakeshelter.com website and started the process. Within hours they began receiving messages from people desperate to find a new home in the UK and the journey had begun.
The very first message was from a young woman in her 20’s that simply said “we from Ukraine we need help”. After a brief exchange of messages they decided on a video call in order to make a decision. As soon as Tom & Valentina saw Lilly and learnt more of her desperate situation, their minds were made up; they would be opening up their home to this girl and her friend Anna. The girls were already in Poland and the horrors they had witnessed were written all over their faces. Despite the fact that in every call they put on a brave face it was clear the only hope they had lay with Tom & Valentina. The girls had left behind everything, including their husbands, their families, their entire lives, and each had nothing more than a small suitcase with whatever they’d been able to carry.
As the Homes for Ukraine visa process started, Tom & Valentina kept up an exchange of messages and video calls to learn more about their pending guests whose plan was to come to the UK and work on a farm to be able to send money home to help their families. Tom & Valentina became increasingly concerned that their new guests would somehow be taken advantage of, with images of modern slavery and exploitation running through their minds. It got them thinking on how they could do more and from there the idea of REAL Jobs for Ukraine was born.
REAL Jobs would find vacancies with ethical companies looking to support people from Ukraine, offer support and advice on setting themselves up in the UK and make sure that there was no chance people from Ukraine were in any way taken advantage of.
Read on to learn more about the Jobs for Ukraine scheme and the successes we have already had.