'It's been so hard' The Ukrainian sisters who've spent 12 months away from Dad

  • Report by Granada Reports Correspondent Mel Barham

For sisters Viktoriia and Anastasiia, the last 12 months have been the hardest of their lives.

Fleeing Putin's bombs, they left their father behind in Kiev, and travelled with their mother to Cheshire, to seek sanctuary with their Auntie who was already living here with her English husband.

They hoped it would simply be for a few weeks - but a year later they are still here.

"It doesn't feel like a year", Viktoriia tells ITV's Mel Barham. "It feels like two weeks, probably one week. Time goes so quickly."

16-year-old Viktoriia Shakula comforts her 6 year-old sister Anastasiia as they talk about missing their Dad who is still in Ukraine Credit: ITV News

They were given a warm welcome by the local community and offered places at the prestigious Grange School in Northwich.

Anastasiia had never been to school before as children don't start school in Ukraine until they are six years old. She spoke no english. Her sister Viktoriia also had only a basic understanding of the language.

Anastasiia Shakula was given a place at The Grange school in Northwich shortly after arriving in the UK Credit: ITV News

12 months on, ITV News returned to see how the sisters were settling in to life in the UK.

"It feels like home." Viktoriia says. "I have friends and it's really good because when I just came to school, I didn't have no one. And now, like, I have friends and I can spend time with them."

Anastasiia's class 1 teacher, Rachel Brown told ITV "I can only imagine what it is like coming to somewhere where you don't speak the language, you don't know anybody.

"And I feel that she [Anastasiia] has adapted really well and she has picked up so much of the language, her reading has really, really come on and she's happy.

"And I think that's the most important thing. She's really, really happy."

Meanwhile Viktoriia has done so well at school that she is about to take her GCSE examinations, and their mother Anna has a job in a local salon and is taking English language classes herself.

But for all of them, the pain of leaving their father behind in a war-torn country is still incredibly difficult.

"It's really hard because we saw each other every day." Viktoriia says as she wipes tears from her face.

"Now we can't see each other. I still miss him a lot, but I hope I'll see him soon."