Article 18 May 2022

The power of united efforts: Mark’s life transformation, chapter 2

Our natural response when conflict emerges is to try and support in various ways. Some of you were able to help from a distance, and others have opened their homes to our European neighbours in Ukraine. Let’s look at the fantastic stories that our Mitie colleagues have shared.

Mark’s life transformation

Chapter 2:

Mark, our Group Director of Operational Excellence and Business Transformation, tells us about welcoming the two young Ukrainian women into his home. Today, we hear about how the local community greeted them.

This was a long and difficult journey for Anna and Daria.

Anna and Daria went to university together. They were in constant communication throughout the war. Both their parents insisted that Anna and Daria look for refuge instead of staying in Ukraine. When the girls arrived, we asked them to call their parents and confirm they arrived safely. This was a relief for the parents who were happy about it.

What did it look like when you finally welcomed them into the UK?

When we were at the airport arrivals and they saw us with a Ukrainian flag flying around, their faces lit up. I think this was the moment they realised they that they were safe and that we were going to look after them. While we were standing at the airport and waiting, people were coming to me and my wife to offer words of support. We also had Ukrainian people locally waiting to welcome our guests too.

How did people around you feel about opening your home?

Our local community has been very keen to meet them, help, provide support and resources, such as clothes. They have also offered to show them around the town.  

Did you know anything about Ukrainian culture before?

Through hosting Anna and Daria we met more Ukrainians. We have grown more and more curious. My family and I will go over to Ukraine as soon as it is safe to do so.

What are the dynamics you have with Anna and Daria?

The girls came to the UK with a roller bag and a rucksack, so they have not much and they are starting fresh. But they are also very proud. As much as we tried to help with cooking, providing them with things, they also expressed they didn’t need the assistance. We are trying to find the right balance to help and let them find their independence.

What would you advise to colleagues who are interested in hosting a Ukrainian family?

You have to be very proactive to help the people you are helping get here, because of the processes. The process took two weeks from registering to getting the paperwork and visa approved. We contacted our MP and she helped facilitate the process with the Home Office. But once they are here with you, it’s very rewarding. We are helping them but also their families back in Ukraine, who have the reassurance that their daughters are safe.

How do you see their professional situation now?

Anna and Daria have been working remotely for their companies in Ukraine but the gap in Ukrainian salary and UK cost of living means they will have to find jobs here. They have master’s degrees, I am sure they could find really good work here. Both of them have been very resilient, and these are the sort of skills an employer would see as an asset.

What is next for Anna and Daria?

They need to figure out who they want to be, what they want to be. Both expressed that they would like to go back to Ukraine eventually. But no one knows when it will be a safe place again. Right now they need some decompression time.

We went on a holiday weekend in Cornwall and they came with us. It gave them some quiet time and an opportunity to pause and process. But they have been doing very well – better than I thought they would probably do.

An update on Anna and Daria from Jasmine Hudson

“We gave Anna and Daria access to our Learning Hub so they can take courses here and expend their horizons in the UK. We’re also giving them face to face trainings on CV writing and interviewing skills, as well as an initial 3 months paid internship.”

Next week, our second story in two chapters will explore another life-changing experience with the managing director of Biotecture.