One of the first refugees to arrive in the UK after escaping President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is flourishing in a new career with World Jewish Relief – helping those now facing the same turmoil in their lives that she once did.
Sabina Artemieva began a new life in the borough of Camden at the end of March 2022, after escaping the war-torn city of Kyiv with her son.
Ten months later she has thrived in her role as Homes For Ukraine project officer and caseworker at WJR, the main Jewish oversees aid organisation in the UK.
Speaking at a meeting of Camden Council, Sabina, who is herself Jewish, was loudly applauded as she told of her determination to use her job to give the sort of support she needed when in arriving in the UK to refugees now.
She told Monday’s meeting, which included a cross-party motion stressing Camden’s commitment to be a borough of sanctuary for refugees; “I came to the UK from Ukraine at the end of March 2022 with my son.
“Now I work for World Jewish Relief as a Home For Ukraine project officer and caseworker.
“The support we give to Ukrainians now is the support I needed when I just arrived.”
After Putin’s invasion, Sabina left Kyiv on an evacuation bus and headed for the border of Moldova and then on to Romania. A fortnight later she had learned of the British government’s Homes For Ukraine scheme, launched by the former minister for refugees Lord Harrington.
She arrived in London just over one week later, with a Jewish family offering her a home.
During her speech Sabina also praised WJR’s 90 years of experience of “assisting refugees all over the world”.
She said the organisation had began a partnership with Camden two years ago, and that the borough used a specialist training and employment programme to help support the refugees, as they looked for work, and sought housing.
She added:” Today, based on my own experience, and my experience of working with Ukrainian families in the UK, I would say that we have developed in World Jewish Relief a well-established scheme to apply for everything needed, which allows us to complete all the necessary administrative routine in just two or three weeks.”
So far, 50 refugees now living in the borough have been helped to find jobs, she revealed.
Sabina recalled that as one of the first Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Camden she faced the daunting task of having to work out a lot of things herself with her sponsor, but she added “my own experience with the council was extremely positive.”
After Russia’s invasion she had left Kyiv on an evacuation bus and headed for the border of Moldova and then on to Romania. A fortnight later she had learned of the British government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, launched by former minister for refugees Lord Harrington.
Camden Council leader Georgina Gould also spoke at the meeting, and stressed how “my own family are in Britain because over generations Jewish people were persecuted.”
She added: “And many Jewish people died because enough wasn’t done to provide people with asylum fleeing devastation.
West London synagogue member Gould, whose mother is Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK and a Labour peer, also noted the on-coming Holocaust Memorial Day.
She said: “With HMD, we will say ‘never again.’
“But we can’t really say that unless we provide a safe legal route to people fleeing persecution today.”
Gould praised the 532 families in Camden who had opened their own homes to refugees and said that as human beings “we have an obligation not to turn away from those images of destruction, not to ‘other’ that suffering, and to stand up us a global community.”
Haverstock ward councillor Rebecca Filer also praised the free English as a second language course for Ukrainian refugees offered by her local South Hampstead synagogue.
She added:”I think that is such an important initiative, and speaks for the nature of the community, which was founded by German refugees who came to this country.”
Labour councillor Filer said refugees arriving in this country in recent years had been thrust into a “hostile and difficult” environment as a result of “our government really not doing enough.”
Another councillor to speak at the meeting Jonathan Simpson MBE also noted Holocaust Memorial Day, but noted how in the 1930s some UK newspapers had featured horrific headlines suggesting “stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port in this country.”
Both Simpson and Gould were critical of the similar rhetoric around migrants that we see now from both the media and some politicians.
Simpson noted though how Jews had been welcomed into Camden in 1938 and now “there is a large Jewish community in Belsize as a result of that and they have two synagogues which are exceptionally welcoming.”
He said was concerned about the welcome being given to refugees in other areas of the country along with “a tome that is set by newspapers, and indeed politicians.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.