A family who fled the war in Ukraine have been rehoused in a Welsh school and they appeared on The One Show this evening, June 20, when viewers saw just how the family of five have been welcomed into their new community.
The report on the BBC show told that the empty caretaker’s house at St Martin’s School in Caerphilly has now been filled by Maria and her family, you can see the original story of the house, here. The five, Maria, her two brothers and parents, Vitalii and Tatiana, live on the school grounds and Maria and her brother Luka attend the school which is just a hop away from their front door.
Maria tells reporter, Lindsey Russell, about living in Wales: “People here are so nice and they really care and are ready to help,” she said, but the teenager sadly confesses that she also feels guilty. “My life’s become really even better here, I have a lot of things which I didn’t have in Ukraine. It’s so hard for me to understand and I feel a little guilty. I just read the stories [of back home] and I’m here. And I have other things but they don’t.”
The segment from Caerphilly also showed the school putting on a special dinner for the family with a mixture of Welsh and Ukrainian food on offer, cawl and Welsh cakes were served side-by-side with Vitalii and Tatiana’s borscht and ploff – a Ukrainian rice dish. Maria’s fellow St Martin’s pupil, Megan, told the show how it was having the new pupils at the school, she said: “Having someone in my class was a new experience but working with Maria and sharing her experiences has really opened my mind.
“[What was happening in Ukraine] was a world away, but when she moved here it’s actually a real thing. And I’m living with someone who’s been through it and it’s just completely surreal.’
Maria and her family escaped from their home 200km outside Kyiv when Russia invaded, they left everything behind, escaped to Poland and settled here in the UK. Lee Jarvis, headteacher at St Martin’s, also appeared on The One Show and explained how they ended up at the caretaker’s house. He said: “When we started seeing these pictures on the news and it was ‘what can we do? How can we help?’
“We had a caretaker’s house and we sat down together and thought why don’t we use that? We’ve got a property that could house a Ukrainian family if they wanted to come to us. “