'We can’t forget': Ukrainians react to the two year anniversary of Russia's invasion

ITV Border's Katie Templeton-Knight caught up with the couple at Carlisle Cathedral

A couple from Ukraine have reflected on their time in the UK ahead of the two year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Professor Serge Plotnikov and his wife Helen Plotnikova moved to Carlisle around two years ago under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

He taught at Mariupol universities, while his wife was an English teacher. Ahead of the anniversary he gave a lecture at Carlisle Cathedral about the history and mythology of city, which was translated by her.

Mr Plotnikov now works at a local bakery in the city because he doesn’t speak English. Meanwhile, Mrs Plotnikova works as an interpreter for Cumberland Council.

As the conflict continues, the couple said that they are losing hope because they feel that Ukraine is receiving less support and weapons.

They said: “We can't forget about it because we can't go back safely to Ukraine. We don't know what to do.

"Even after this period of time, we still don’t feel confidence in our future.”

Their son and daughter-in-law are still living in Kyiv, along with friends who have stayed in the country.

They said that their family would be likely to join them in the UK at a later point.

However, the government announced on Monday that the Ukraine family scheme had closed and that applications would no longer be accepted.

Mrs Plotnikov told ITV Border: “Every day we are writing to our son who is in Kyiv and to our daughter in law.

"Every second we are with him, even physically, if we are here.

"With our heart, with our thoughts, we are there with our family, with our country and with our people”.

Earlier this month, the Home Office said that from early 2025 those in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to apply to stay for another 18 months.

The first visas, which granted three years leave in the UK under programmes such as Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme are set to expire in March 2025.

Both welcomed the news but they said that they would like a more stable immigration status within the UK.

They said that “when we came here we had no plan for our future, however now we’ve been here 18 months, we would like to have an opportunity to have a path of how we can integrate into society because we really like it here and don’t want to be anywhere else”.

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