Ukraine refugee thanks residents

Posted on: Thursday 11 January 2024
Nataliia and Mike2

A Ukrainian refugee who moved to Torfaen to flee the war with Russia has thanked residents for making her feel welcome.

Nataliia Tatarenko moved to Pontypool with her eight-year-old son Matvii and her mother-in-law as part of the UK's sponsor scheme.

Natallia and her son, from Kiev, had initially fled to a different part of Ukraine after the Russian forces invaded in February 2022.

But in March 2022, she shared a post on social media to find a host in Britain and was contacted by a family living in Pontypool.

Speaking to the Valleys Voices podcast series, Nataliia, 43, said they were welcomed by the local community as soon as they arrived.

“When we arrived, we found a sunflower in front of the house and everything inside was in blue and yellow dedicated to the colours of our flag," she said.

"We felt very welcomed to be honest and I feel we are very lucky to live in this part of Wales.

"People starting to bring toys for Matvii, and they asked what we needed. I said I was out of shoes and clothes and people were checking the sizes and bringing them to us. Everybody was very supportive. People were very, very friendly."

Last summer, Nataliia and Matvii visited Ukraine and Nataliia has documented their journey in a two-part Valleys Voices podcast, which you can listen via Spotify, Apple iTunes or the Valleys Voices webpage

In December 2023, Nataliia moved back to Ukraine with Matvii to be reunited with husband Oleg.

Since the war began, 115 Ukrainian refugees have moved to Torfaen as part of the individual or super sponsorship schemes.

Chris Hunt, Community Cohesion Coordinator, said: "West Gwent communities have been part of an outstanding national movement in supporting those who have been forcibly displaced.

"Local residents have opened their homes, providing safety for Ukrainian families and have helped them rebuild their lives. This showcases the level of goodwill and generosity of our local communities."

The Valleys Voices podcast is produced by the Gwent Cohesion Team, based in Torfaen Council.

Last Modified: 16/01/2024 Back to top