A Ukrainian mum has become one of the first refugees to find work in the UK as she started her job as a beautician – and her boss is already singing her praises.
Valeriia Starkova, 37, fled the war-torn city of Kharkiv with her family to move into a house in Cambridgeshire last month.
Now she has become one of the first Ukrainian refugees to find a job since arriving in the UK.
Valeriia, who has two kids called Alikhan, 10, and Kamila, 12, started her new position as a nail technician at a beauty salon in Cambridge yesterday (Tues).
Having previously worked the same role in Ukraine, she said: “It feels fantastic.
“I haven’t been working for two months so I’ve been waiting for this day for quite a long time.
“I was hoping that I would get the job I love.
“I was nervous that I wouldn’t understand clients and what they want but after I finished the course here I saw that it’s quite similar and the clients are actually really nice and they help me a lot.
“The hardest part was doing my CV. It took me two or three days but without a CV you can’t find a job obviously.”
Valeriia is living with nine Ukrainian relatives at a house in Cambridgeshire that was offered to them rent-free by local businessman Mick Swinhoe, who sponsored the family’s visa application.
The four generational family – ranging in age from ten to 90 – drove for three weeks through 13 countries to arrive in the UK at the end of March.
Speaking through tears, Valeriia said today: “Of course I miss my home. I miss everything I had there. I had all my life out there.
“I miss my husband as well. He’s in another country right now and he’s waiting for his visa to come. The kids haven’t seen him for quite a long time.
“It’s hard. All my life out there [in Ukraine] and I just left everything.”
Valeriia’s new boss Charlotte Liddiard, who opened CSL salon in Cambridge last April, said that her new recruit’s application “stood out”.
She added that Valeriia, who is the salon’s only nail specialist, has a busy list of clients this week.
Charlotte said: “Her application stood out. She sent a covering letter with her CV explaining her passion for the job.
“It just felt like the right thing. I saw her work on her Instagram page and it was fantastic.
Charlotte, who has five employees, including Valeriia, added: “She’s fully booked today on her first day. She’s pretty fully booked for the week.
“Her colleagues and our customers are really excited for her to work here.”
Charlotte said that Valeriia’s background – having fled bombarded Ukraine with her family – cemented the decision to hire her.
She said: “Obviously it’s nice to help. You have empathy with what’s going on. It’s just nice to be able to help and do something otherwise you feel pretty helpless.
“It might be a little thing for me but it’s a big thing for her. She’s got kids and a family – you imagine yourself in that position.”
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