Tormented refugees feeling guilty celebrating Christmas this year

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But while many have found stability in the UK, some face an uncertain future and are constantly on the move.

The Government’s six-month Homes for Ukraine refugee hosting scheme has now run its course. This means many refugees – like Sofia Berdychevska, 16, and mum Vitaliia, 42, who have been staying in their sponsor’s home in Chesham, Bucks – must find somewhere else to live.

They are among 150,000 Ukrainians who fled to the UK after the war began in February. Sanctuary Foundation has been working with refugee charities to welcome Ukrainians to the UK.

Founder Dr Krish Kandiah, who is hosting Ukrainian refugees at his home in Oxfordshire, said many families have been trying to bring elderly relatives to the UK for Christmas to protect them from the harsh winter.

He said: “Most Ukrainian mothers are here as they wanted their children to be somewhere safe because of the war.

“But many left behind parents who are now living without heat or light.

“Some are trying to get their parents here just for the Christmas season so they can be warm and safe for a while.

“And many of our Ukrainian friends are also worried about what will happen in the next stage of their accommodation.

“Many hosts had imagined this would be a six-month period – that’s what the Government said – and have made plans.

“So many have got family coming in for Christmas, or building work, leaving many Ukrainians in an unstable situation.”

Dr Kandiah is urging the Government to adopt the Scottish Government’s policy of acting as a guarantor for Ukrainian refugees’ rental applications.

Sofia said: “A lot of host families ask their Ukrainian guests to leave for Christmas. We have to show the world Ukraine continues to live. We have to find something good in life, not just sitting and crying this Christmas.”

But she added: “When I go out with my friends here I have fun and everything is okay. Then I understand my friends in Ukraine haven’t got electricity and I feel guilty I’m here.”

Once banned under decades of Soviet Rule, Christmas this year will take on extra meaning for Ukrainians as the fighting shows little sign of ending. For Tania Orlova, 45, who left Kyiv seven months ago, with son Daniel, 8, and her mother Liubov, 74, the festive season is also bittersweet. She says she is lucky to continue to stay with her hosts in High Wycombe, Bucks.

They, like many, will celebrate a double Christmas with their host families: a British one on the 25th and another on January 6, when Ukrainians traditionally celebrate with a 12-course meal.

But water and power cuts are now the norm in Kyiv, with soldiers and civilians bracing themselves for -5C temperatures.

Tania said: “When you realise your mum or your grandmother are really cold and they have to go to bomb shelters all the time and don’t have any internet and you cannot contact them, it’s very painful. We think about this every day.

“Daniel’s aunt asked me if I can help her come to Britain during the winter and I’m desperate, but I couldn’t find anybody.

“We have a life with electricity. Many Ukrainians feel guilty. In our video chats we try not to show nice things because we are afraid it would be too much for them.”