Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Tetiana, 47, was forced to leave Kyiv with her teenage daughter. After seeking safety in Poland, she travelled to the UK to live with her partner and start a new life.  

She explained: “It was a very hard time for us. We had no electricity, no gas, and it was very dangerous with all the shelling. I decided we needed to leave to stay safe. So, we had 15 minutes to pack up all our possessions and make the last train that was evacuating the city. 

“When I arrived in the UK, I couldn’t work straight away because my daughter was really struggling with her mental health, so I wanted to make sure she was settled here first. It was a very hard adaptation period because it’s a different country with different people. But slowly each day she got better, so I decided it was time for me to find a job to help me feel more comfortable and confident as well.” 

With more than 20 years’ experience working with children in Ukraine, Tetiana was keen to continue working in a role she was deeply passionate about. However, despite her previous experience, she struggled to get her Ukrainian qualifications recognised by employers here. 

In need of further support, Tetiana joined the Restart Scheme in Enfield in January 2023. Matched with her dedicated Employment Advisor, Sarah Ittoo, she was helped to overcome several barriers to work, including anxiety, low confidence, limited English language skills, an out-of-date CV, as well as a lack of necessary qualifications.  

Sarah immediately began putting a support plan in place: “It was important I created an Action Plan that would allow Tetiana to follow her dreams of working as a Nursery Assistant here in the UK. She was very dedicated and open to new ideas that would help her develop her skills and take her closer to her ultimate goal.” 

Through social anxiety sessions, Tetiana’s confidence grew as she was helped to work through feelings of stress and anxiety which had developed as a result of her traumatic experience leaving Ukraine. With the team’s support, she was able to develop techniques and strategies to manage these feelings.  

Tetiana said: “The sessions were really beneficial to me. They helped with my confidence and anxiety, and showed me how to manage my feelings; now if I’m feeling bad, I know what I can do to help myself.” 

The team helped Tetiana to obtain references from Ukraine and get her qualifications recognised here through the UK National Information Centre. Sarah also arranged for Tetiana to complete the Level 1 Safeguarding Children and Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety for Early Years training courses, and secure a new DBS certificate, funded by Maximus. 

As a final step, Tetiana was supported to update her CV and learn how to effectively job search here. Through mock interviews and English language sessions, she also improved her English skills and confidence, preparing her for the job market. 

Highlighting the impact of these sessions, Tetiana explained: “These sessions were very helpful for me as when I started getting invited to interviews, I felt very comfortable and confident going in and answering questions.” 

After two months of intensive support, Tetiana successfully secured a new role as a Nursery Assistant at a local school. She continues to be supported by the team as she settles into her new life in the UK, and looks forward to a brighter future.  

Reflecting on her experience, she said: “Maximus has helped me more than I could have ever believed. We’re now happy and safe, and I’m looking forward to the future. My life is now here in the UK, and one day, I want to run my own nursery here.”

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