Ukrainian refugees unable to find home in Norwich

Published:
7:00 AM July 29, 2022



A terrified Ukrainian woman living in Norwich has begged the city not to forget her country’s plight.

For months families in the war-torn nation have lived through nights of shelling, wondering if they would see daylight again.

It comes as Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine’s second biggest power plant.

Natalia Scott spends her days frightened for her mother, who calls her from a village in Ukraine reported seeing missiles from her bedroom window.

Having lived in Sprowston with her husband Gordon since 2017, the Ukrainian mum-of-one is doing everything she can to support refugees fleeing the conflict.

Mrs Scott, 44, has called on the Fine City to remember the daily strife of those in Ukraine.


Local militiaman Valery carries a child as he helps a fleeing family across a bridge destroyed by artillery, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine.
– Credits: AP

She said: “There seems to be a lot less attention in the UK than there used to be. I would probably expect that if the war was slowing down or we were close to victory.

“But that is unfortunately not the case.”

Mrs Scott praised all the families who have taken on Ukrainians in their homes as part of the Homes for Ukraine government sponsored scheme.

Natalia Scott outside City Hall where a Ukrainian protest will be taking place at noon on Sunday, July 31

Natalia Scott outside City Hall where a Ukrainian protest will be taking place at noon on Sunday, July 31
– Credits: Ben Hardy

But she fears there are now limited places for refugees, with a friend of hers unable to find a safe place to stay.

Irina Ross, 39, is now scheduled to fly from Lithuania to Edinburgh on Thursday with her two five-year-old daughters after Mrs Scott was unable to find her a sponsor in Norwich.

Mrs Scott said: “Her kids are very much stressed out by what they have experienced in Ukraine and one of them is showing signs of a mental breakdown.

“I would love for her to live here but it has not been possible.”

Mrs Scott is also worried for the safety of her mum Nina Nikiforova who was stopped from crossing the Polish border on the way to join her daughter in Norwich at the end of May.

The 73-year-old lives in a village called Leonivka between Kyiv and Chernobyl but was told her international passport was not biometric so she had to return home.

Mrs Scott said: “She saw a rocket go over her house on Thursday morning which landed 10 miles from her home.

“She saw it from her window so it’s been stressful for me to hear.

“Some Ukrainians believe the war will finish soon but I do not think so.

“The Russians are advancing slowly but are taking more areas. There is now better artillery for Ukraine but, unfortunately, I do not think Putin will accept being defeated.”

The recruitment specialist has also seen her 23-year-old daughter Vika return to Kyiv to be with her fiancée having temporarily returned to live with her mum

Natalia Scott with her daughter Vika Kleomites after her arrival at London Stansted Airport on March 26, 2022

Natalia Scott with her daughter Vika Kleomites after her arrival at London Stansted Airport on March 26, 2022
– Credits: Kateryna Shreeve

Mrs Scott said: “There are other Ukrainians who have lost their jobs and want to go home or be back in their own beds but it’s a risk.

“The most important thing for me is to provide for those who have nothing and nowhere to go.

“Most Ukrainians will go back when the war stops. It is not easy to live in an environment where they struggle with the language.”

A protest for Ukraine will be taking place outside City Hall from noon on Sunday, July 31 to highlight the war is still very real and to show gratitude for those who have supported refugees in the city so far.

Mrs Scott said: “The city council helps Ukrainian families to get a loan to adjust to life and helps with schools.

“They also provide free sim cards for mobile phones. I would say there has been a great help but we need to raise awareness that there is still a need and the war continues.”

Natalia Scott in Norwich city center overlooking the market

Natalia Scott in Norwich city center overlooking the market
– Credits: Ben Hardy

Mrs Scott has been helping out with the Norfolk Polonia, a non-profit organization which acts as a support hub for Ukrainian families.

The West Earlham-based organization helps with matters such as Universal Credit, PIP, pensions, council house applications as well as English speaking classes.

The Ukrainian flag flying near Norwich City Hall

The Ukrainian flag flying near Norwich City Hall
– Credits: Kate Wolstenholme

For more information visit https://norfolkpolonia.org.uk.

There is also a Facebook group for local support called Ukrainians in Norfolk.

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