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Children’s book aims to smooth path for Ukrainians

Published: 6 January 2023 at 14:00

Dr Poppy Gibson and Yuliia

Story is based on family staying with ARU lecturer under Homes for Ukraine scheme

The story of a Ukrainian family staying with an Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) lecturer under the Homes for Ukraine scheme is the base for a new children’s e-book aimed at smoothing the transition for compatriots attempting to settle into UK life.

Yuliia Ruban and her son, seven-year-old Daniil, have been staying at the home of Dr Poppy Gibson in Thundersley, Essex, since April after fleeing their home city of Melitopol in Zaphorizhia Oblast, one of the four areas of southern and eastern Ukraine that Russia is attempting to annexe.

Dr Gibson and Yuliia have worked together with local illustrator Terry Culkin to produce A Home for a Ukrainian, a children’s book that aims to help teachers and parents to ease the transition of young Ukrainians as they attempt to rebuild their lives in the UK. Proceeds from the book will go to the charity Voices for Children.

A Home for a Ukrainian loosely tells the story of Daniil as a child refugee moving to England as his home country is ravaged by war, and navigating challenges like changing schools, adjusting to a new culture and language, whilst retaining hope for the future.

It is hoped the book will encourage compassion towards refugees settling in the UK, and help children to understand what is happening in Ukraine. The book has also been translated into Ukrainian by Yuliia.

As of early January, more than 210,000 visas have been issued to Ukrainians under UK Government schemes since the start of the war in February 2022.

Since arriving in the UK, Daniil has started school and has learned to speak English, while Yuliia has found full-time work in the local area. They are hoping to stay in the local area and find a property of their own in the near future.

Dr Gibson, Senior Lecturer in Education at ARU, said:

“I wanted to do everything I could to help Yuliia and Daniil to settle here, but I found the existing books written about refugees tended to be about people coming here on boats and escaping poverty. It is unusual in these times to have refugees fleeing a conflict in Europe, and I feel there is a place for something different to help those hundreds of thousands of people coming to the UK from Ukraine. 
“The Homes for Ukraine scheme has benefited us in different ways, giving some structure to Yuliia and Daniil as they try to rebuild their lives, and we have all shared elements of our respective cultures and learned a lot.  
“It is hard for any of us to imagine our lives being turned upside-down in this way and anything we can do to ease the transition for people coming from Ukraine will have a big effect.” 


The e-book was published this week, priced at £5, and is available via Amazon.