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June 16, 2024
Refugee Employment

Anna’s Story: Hope through history


Fleeing the chaos of war-torn Ukraine, Anna and her two sons found themselves on a journey of survival and hope, guided by the kindness of strangers and the echoes of a shared history.

After the war in Ukraine began, Anna knew she had to flee. While searching online, she crossed paths with Shelley and Richard Baskind, a Jewish couple from the UK, whose willingness to open their home would become a lifeline for Anna and her sons.

Arriving in the UK in April 2022, they lived with the Baskinds as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. In a remarkable stroke of fate, they discovered a historic connection between their families.

Anna shared the story of her grandfather, Nikolai Dykii, who, during the Second World War, had hidden and saved a Jewish family in Ukraine. For his heroism, he was honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, receiving a medal. This treasured possession was one of the few things Anna brought with her to the UK. She proudly showed this to the Baskinds and they were shocked to realise the medal Anna’s father had received had been crafted by Mrs. Baskind’s own grandfather in Tel Aviv.

The sacrifice of Anna’s grandfather in the 1940s was being repaid 80 years later. This time the roles would be reversed, and a Jewish family would support a Ukrainian refugee. The Baskinds provided not just assistance and shelter, but also a sense of belonging and hope for Anna and her family. But Anna’s inspirational story doesn’t end there.

Looking to rebuild her life in the UK, Anna took part in World Jewish Relief’s STEP Ukraine programme, a specialist training and employment programme delivered in partnership with the British Council and funded by the UK Government. Since August 2023, STEP Ukraine has supported almost 10,000 Ukrainian refugees like Anna to learn English and find meaningful employment in the UK.

After graduating from STEP Ukraine, Anna weighed up her options. Anna worked in learning and development before she left Ukraine and wanted to find similar work in the UK. After an initial employment contract ended, she considered returning to Ukraine. However, by another stroke of fate, World Jewish Relief was looking for people to join the team. Anna now works as an Employment Advisor on STEP Ukraine, supporting other Ukrainian refugees in the same position as her.

Anna’s story is a testament to the importance of Hesed, or loving-kindness, especially in times of crisis, and the remarkable impact it can have in forging a better world.

Inspired by Anna’s story to take action?

For over 90 years, World Jewish Relief has stood shoulder to shoulder with refugees from around the world. In the 1930s and 40s, we rescued and supported over 65,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe, and today, we continue to provide life-changing action to refugees in crisis across the world. Inspired to take action? Get involved with our upcoming fundraising campaign and stand shoulder to shoulder with people in crisis.

Inspired by Anna's story to take action?

Stand shoulder to shoulder with people in crisis like Anna, and get involved with our upcoming fundraising campaign.