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After fleeing the war in Ukraine, refugees share their experiences of finding work in their new homes. part-time

The refugees making a living after fleeing Ukraine

When Anastacia Kozmina and Oleksiyy Danko woke to the sound of bombing in February 2022, they immediately decided to leave Ukraine. They joined some eight million Ukrainian refugees faced with finding a safe place to live and work.

The couple arrived in the UK where they found people to be "warm-hearted" and "supportive", but finding jobs was hard. So they started their own business.

Ukraine refugees have been scattered all over the world. This is the story of how many Ukrainians are finding ways of earning a living somewhere new.

In Ukraine, Anastasia worked as a lawyer; Oleksiyy was a qualified pharmacist. They also dry-cleaned furniture to make extra money.

Anastacia said when the bombing began on 24 February 2022, she knew she did not want to live in a warzone.

The couple had friends who had moved to England, so they put an appeal on Facebook for a sponsor - and eventually arrived in Southport, Merseyside.

"It was a really hard period for us," Anastacia says. "I stopped doing my make-up, my nails, my hair... I needed six months to refresh, to understand that I am in a safe place."

Anastacia tried to find work as a lawyer but because the UK has a different legal system she couldn't, so the couple decided to use their side-hustle skills and started a business dry-cleaning furniture.

They has some leaflets printed, and were surprised to receive calls from people who wanted items cleaning, items that were not actually dirty.

"One time Oleksiyy went to clean a small sofa and this lady gave us some beautiful flowers because she wants to support us. She waned to help us, she was really warm-hearted," she says.

They are hoping to continue to build the business: "In England we have another life, we have an opportunity to develop ourselves, to grow," she says.

Yulia left Ukraine three months after the war began.

She found a sponsor in Nottingham and drove for three days with her two daughters and their dog. Yulia asked us not to use her surname because her husband is still in Ukraine.

Back home, she ran a successful wedding-dress business and her sponsor suggested she start it up again.

"It's a crazy idea, but I think I can try... my profession is my life," she says.

A friend of Yulia's husband, who was driving to the UK, brought over her sewing machines, fabrics and mannequins.

"It's not easy because system of business in England is different, it's not like in Ukraine," says Yulia.

She struggled to make her wedding-dress business off the ground in the UK, so decided to use her skills and passion to find a full-time sewing job.

Yulia says, although it's been disappointing not to be able to keep her business going, she is happy with her new life.

"We have a nice place, we have nice work, family... I do what I like to do, so I can say that I am lucky."

She says with a bit more time she will try again to get her business going.

Polina was preparing the children in her dance school for a competition when Russia invaded Ukraine.

"War started and everything that you planned, it doesn't make any sense," she says.

Polina lived beside a tank factory in Lviv and quickly realised it would be a target. The following morning she left for Poland and a month later joined her sister who had been living in Canada for a few years.

"It was really difficult mentally because you are still part of Ukraine and you are here in Canada and it's very different," she says.

"You need to do something, you need to make your mind busy to feel better," she adds.

Polina got a job in recruitment but her passion was for teaching dance.

She rented space in a studio and started Polli's Dance, teaching Canadian children and the children of other Ukrainian refugees.

"I feel this energy exchange with kids," she says. "It's something that makes me feel happy."

Volodymyr and Regina Razumovskaya left Ukraine a year ago.

They had already been forced out of their home in Donetsk when the region was seized by Russian separatists in 2014 and their business was destroyed.

The couple fled to Kyiv where they set up another business selling plants.

But when Russia invaded the family were forced to flee again - this time to join friends in Perth, Western Australia.

"Could you imagine just to leave your house? To leave you business? To leave your friends?" Regina asks.

"Even [after] one year passed I just feel this fear inside, you are not sure what's going to happen."

Regina says the welcome they received in Australia gave them the belief that they could start again.

Vlodymyr now works full-time because the business in Ukraine makes just 10% of what it did before the war.

Regina told us: "When you trust that there is a future for you, you buy plants.

"The people in Ukraine now are so exhausted, so tired by the war they are losing their trust."

Additional reporting by Alex Bell and Jess Quayle

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