Oxfordshire Ukrainian refugees make 46-mile round trip to school

By Katharine Da Costa
BBC South Today

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Media caption,
Liza says living without washing and cooking facilities is hard

A disabled Ukrainian mother says she is having to make a 46-mile round trip to get her son to school after they were moved into emergency accommodation.

Liza and her son came to Oxfordshire in March after fleeing Dnipro following the Russian invasion.

They were living with a sponsor and her son started a new school but they were moved into a hotel three weeks ago after the relationship broke down.

Oxfordshire County Council is trying to find a long-term solution for the pair.

Liza, who has cerebral palsy which affects her mobility, starts the daily three-hour round trip by bus with her son from their hotel in Oxford.

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Image caption,
Liza says she is trying to stay strong for the sake of her eight-year-old son

She said they have cereal for breakfast and use boiled water to make porridge for dinner but do not have facilities to carry out day-to-day tasks like washing their clothes.

"It's very uncomfortable here. It's very difficult, it's very expensive. I have no means to cook fresh food for my son," she added.

"I can't afford to despair for the sake of my son, who is also the source of my strength. I want him to be safe, I want him to be well, I want him to be healthy."

Once a week, while her son is at school, Liza spends time at a project started by a GP for Ukrainian refugees.

Image caption,
Liza attends the group set up by Dr Adams (right) in Oxfordshire

Dr Angela Adams set up WISHFUL (Welfare, Integration, Support, Health, Friendship for Ukrainian Life) to support about 300 refugees living in south Oxfordshire. It has received funding from NHS England.

"It's just trying to be there to support somebody who's in a real crisis and doesn't have anybody else to help them," Dr Adams said.

"If you have fallen through the cracks and you're vulnerable or if you just need extra help for health and navigating through systems then hopefully this project will be very useful."

A council spokesperson said it was aware of Liza and her son's situation and "worked quickly to provide immediate temporary accommodation" for them.

"We are now reviewing their accommodation and wider needs to find longer-term solutions. This includes connecting the individuals with community networks and support," they added.

In a statement, the council said: "To date, we have experienced a very low number of sponsorship breakdowns across the county. We are encouraging any sponsor or guest who is unhappy with their current arrangement to contact us."

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