“Here everything is nice and kind and relaxed. And there, we still have our friends and family who we communicate with and hear their hardships.” 

Photo: © Tania


“Here everything is nice and kind and relaxed. And there, we still have our friends and family who we communicate with and hear their hardships.” 

Photo: © Tania

Tania, a mother, local charity worker and co-founder of 2BWell CIC, shares her journey of displacement from Ukraine, her family’s adjustment to life in the UK and her efforts to support Ukrainian refugees.

My name is Tania.

I am a refugee. This is a word Ukrainians don’t really feel comfortable with, but I understand it’s just a terminology. I use the word myself now.

I came to the UK with my son and my mum. Daniel is 10 years old now, but he was 8 when we came here. My mum is 76 and absolutely amazing.

I’m so grateful for the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which gave me the safety of my closest people, and gave Daniel the chance to study and actually enjoy his childhood.

“I came to the UK in 2022, but my journey started much earlier.”

I love dressing up and wearing skirts, jewellery and makeup, but I didn’t want to do any of that anymore. I didn’t allow myself to have fun.

But my son is very active and positive. He was always laughing and smiling, and sometimes I would think, ‘How can you smile or laugh or have fun right now?’  But another part of me knew that it’s his right to have fun. He’s a child and it’s good that he can still enjoy himself.

We eventually moved from Poland to Germany and then on to Belgium. By the time we settled in the UK, we had already lived in several countries. In a way, this was good because I left behind some of my worries and stress in those places.

“Adjusting to life in a new country is a process, but I’m fortunate to be going through it with Daniel and my mum.”

We got a lot of help from others who explained how everything works in the UK, as things are quite different from Ukraine.

Daniel started going to school. It wasn’t easy because he didn’t speak English, but he picked it up pretty fast. Now he writes poems in English. It was more difficult for my mum who still needs me or my son to translate whenever she goes somewhere.

I secured a job in a local charity, and I work with communities supporting Ukrainians. I’m so privileged to have this opportunity and experience. I can learn so much and give back to people, countries, organisations and communities as a way of saying thanks.

I’ve also recently founded a Community Interest Company called 2BWell, which pairs people who need support with trained volunteers, so they can have somebody to talk to. It’s still developing, but I’m hoping we can start this summer.

Just recently, I received a master’s degree in clinical psychology with cognitive behavioural therapy. I had to go back to Ukraine to defend my thesis and it was very challenging because I was so scared. I went to a part of western Ukraine which is considered rather safe, but it was still traumatising.

Experiences like this play into this sort of double reality that I feel like I’m living in. Here everything is nice and kind and relaxed. And there, we still have our friends and family who we communicate with and hear their hardships.

“There’s this reality here and this reality there and it feels like we are split all the time.”

There are many other challenges, too. Like seeing the struggles of fellow Ukrainians in the UK. I’m lucky enough to have my mum to help me with Daniel, which allows me to take time for myself once in a while.

But there are many single Ukrainian mothers now with their children and never have any time for themselves.

They’ve had all this stress for two years and yet they still have all this resilience. Seeing them continue to smile is just amazing. But it’s also hard to realise that I can’t support everybody.

There is also the feeling of identity loss. I’ve put on events with Ukrainians where we discuss this, and where we can celebrate the beauties of Ukrainian culture, like a screening of Carol of the Bells, a film named after the famous Christmas carol, composed by a Ukrainian.

Maybe next Christmas you’ll hear the song and remember that it’s Ukrainian. Then you might tell your friends and family, a snowball effect. 

Events like these are opportunities for mutual cross-cultural exploration. Non-Ukrainians can learn more about our rich culture and see how talented Ukrainians are, and Ukrainians can discover other cultures and traditions.

“Since moving to the UK, I’ve realised an incredible meeting point between Ukrainian and British identities is tea.”

In Ukraine, we have a saying about having tea together or going to each other’s home for tea, so tea is a very strong mechanism in our culture to bring people together.

In Ukraine, we have this older tradition of drinking herbal teas. Both of my grandmothers knew about different plants, what you can use for this or what’s good for that.

There’s nothing better than a package of rich Ukrainian herbal tea from the Carpathian Mountains.

When it comes to tea drinking, everyone’s tastes and preferences are different. But Ukrainians often drink it with honey as there’s lots of honey in Ukraine. And we often have pierogi stuffed with apple, berries or poppy seeds.

But the power of tea to bring people together transcends cultures and the drink has been a source of connection, solidarity and joy for me in both Ukraine and the UK.

To learn more about our Cuppa Hope Tea & Talks and to hear Tania’s story in-person, please visit Cuppa Hope website

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