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Celebrating World Refugee Day


World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. Ahead of the day, we caught up with Olha Kycha, a Business Administrator within our Recruitment team, about her experience. 

Can you tell us about your journey to the UK from Ukraine?

There was just one suitcase the two of us (my daughter and I) packed with warm clothes and food; and our pet cat in my daughter’s backpack as we knew a pet carrier wouldn’t be convenient. After spending the night in the corridor (the safest place in the flat) and listening to loud explosions in the nearby town, the decision to leave home was made quickly. The plan was to reach the West of Ukraine first and then catch a train to Poland. We were assured by mass media that the war would stop in two to three weeks, so we knew that we would come back shortly.

In Poland, a student campus agreed to host us and we spent a month there, reading the news and waiting - a month of uncertainty and despair. I realised that the situation in Ukraine was getting worse and it became obvious that there was no point in just waiting for the end of the war. We needed to move on and find a place to settle down.

A friend of mine advised me to apply for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, and, I found an amazing family in the Glossop, Northwest of England, who were ready to sponsor us. They kindly helped us apply for visas and supported us.  When we docked, our host family met us, and together, we headed to a new place which became a new home for my daughter and me.

Tell us about your employment at Compass, how have they supported you throughout your journey?

The first thing I wanted to do was to find a job. It was not easy having no UK working history. After a while of applying and sending my CV to local businesses, I finally received a call from Compass Group UK & Ireland.

I was sitting by the window and waiting for the interviewer to come. When Kerry arrived, I saw a very pleasant and kind woman. She told a couple of jokes and broke the ice immediately. After half an hour of warm conversation, I heard the words, "Let's try,” which became a starting point in my Compass journey.

I was very worried during my first month at Compass. I was afraid that people would treat me differently. I did not want to be asked questions about my status, and I never was - my colleagues were very kind and supportive. They helped me to pick up different processes and were very patient.

A few months later, I started my Business Administration Apprenticeship provided by the company. This helped me become more confident in my role and learn a lot about the company, its purpose and policies, its opportunities, and programmes. My manager, Dan, was understanding when it came to combining my daily tasks with studying, and supported me with any studying-related help I needed. It was a really great experience.

Compass have sponsored you to stay in the UK – tell us more, how does this make you feel?

The company sponsored me to stay in the UK. My Homes for Ukraine visa was changed to a Skilled Worker one, and the day I received my new BRP (Biometric residence permit), I realised that my life had changed entirely in a way I could not imagine.

Olha Kycha