April: Graduate helps Ukrainians fleeing war move to UK | News and Features

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Bristol University graduate Yegor Lanovenko has launched a platform that is currently helping thousands of Ukrainians seeking to resettle in the UK through a charity he set up in response to the invasion Russian from Ukraine.

Yegor, who was born in Odessa, sprang into action on the first day of the war, drawing on his contacts and resources to create Opora, a charity helping Ukrainians resettle and rebuild their lives in a sustainable way in long term.

Since its inception just a few weeks ago in March 2022, the online platform has recruited 15,000 active users (Ukrainian refugees and British sponsors), leading to over 1.5,000 self-reported household matches. Ukrainians and British nationals, 700 of whom have already successfully received visas under the government’s Homes for Ukraine programme.

“I had to channel my energy into something constructive,” said Yegor, who now lives in London. “I’d rather engage directly with people than hear all of this on the news.”

Sensing the situation was getting worse, Yegor had already convinced his mother, who still lives in Odessa, to extend her stay in London over Christmas, and now lives in Prague with his sister. With his immediate family safe, Yegor focused on helping anyone he could.

“I started thinking ‘if we could help five or ten people’ and then before I knew it we had developed and launched an online platform in less than 48 hours, raised tens of thousands of pounds and arranged trips through our travel partners for Hundreds of families who had been issued visas to get to safety It’s been a whirlwind.

“If you’re in the right place at the right time with the right resources and skills, you’re bound to help.”

Yegor moved to the capital after earning a BA in History and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Bristol. His experience includes senior strategy and product development roles in banking and financial services as well as advisory roles with student-led start-ups.

Through their networks, Yegor and the other Opora administrators were able to assemble a team of specialists including a city law firm, a global travel agency, software development companies, infrastructure security experts and community volunteers to create a support network for Ukrainians looking to relocate. in the UK under various government schemes.

In addition to providing a structured way for the two communities to connect, funding emergency travel, and providing practical advice to refugees fleeing war, Opora’s primary function through its platform is to facilitate access to opportunities employment opportunities, business grants for refugee-led businesses and other resources. for a successful integration and resettlement.

He said: “We have British employers who are committed to hiring Ukrainian refugees, but how do they manage to reach the right communities, with the right skills to benefit from these opportunities? That’s where we come in, leveraging the platform and data to ensure people can receive relevant and personalized job opportunities.

“It’s not just about finding a suitable sponsor or guest, it’s about community support throughout the complicated process, before, during and after arrival. Through the platform, customers can access assistance such as trips fully funded by our partners, baby and mother supplies, employment opportunities and much more.

Yegor grew up in Prague and moved to Bristol to study. This has left him with strong ties to the city and he wants Ukrainian students to know where to find support for them and their families.

“Bristol has a very special place in my heart and has positioned me for everything I have done since. I have fond memories of the University and the student community. I met my partner Sophie, who is now a doctor,” he says.

But while Yegor may have made his life in the UK, it is the war in his native country that interests him.

He continued: “These atrocities are not near our home, they are our home,” he said. “I have extended family members or friends who are struggling, others who cannot leave and others, like elderly parents, who will not leave. They think ‘we were born here, therefore we will die here’.

For those who can or are forced to leave and choose to relocate to the UK, Opora can provide structured support and successfully rebuild their lives, whether temporarily or long term.

To learn more about Opora and how to support the work of the association, visit: https://www.opora.uk/.

More information

Opora is a charity limited by guarantee (incorporated in England and Wales with registered company number 13964425 and registered address Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX). Our articles contain the charitable purposes which govern our work and non-profit status and can be viewed on Companies House. We are in the process of registering our charity business with the Charity Commission, a process that

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