Woman's "horrible" pain as she's forced to leave grandmother behind after fleeing Ukraine 6 months ago

Woman's "horrible" pain as she's forced to leave grandmother behind after fleeing Ukraine

She has been forced to make the journey alone.

It was only two weeks ago that 28-year-old Maria Surushkina and her 84 year old grandmother were sharing a flat in Dnipro, Ukraine in peace before they were suddenly forced to flee.


Her mum lives in Derby in England with her husband, and as war broke out in their home city, Maria had hoped she and her grandmother Valentina could travel there together for safety.

It was when the reality of fleeing war came to be, Valentina Vabulenko wasn't convinced she would be able to make the long journey to safety, leaving her granddaughter in "horrible" pain.

Deciding to go to a train station with a friend to see what assistance would be available for her grandmother with mobility and health issues, it was when Maria saw children crying and people in hysterics that she realised Valentina wasn't going to make the trip.

Her mum in Derby, Mila, was concerned about her own mother but knew she had to convince her daughter to go on without her as she "has her whole life to look forward to."


Getting no sleep before her journey, Maria said it was horrible to say goodbye, and the two were left crying their eyes out.

"Everybody left their luggage just on the platform. Everyone was pushing," she told Sky News.

"There were a lot of children, little ones, but in their eyes you can understand that they are in shock that their lives won't be the same from that moment."


The journey to the Slovakian border was crowded, and Maria said it moved "very slowly, with closed blinds, turned off phones, it was totally dark because we were hoping that no one will see us and bomb us".

She managed to get to the border before leaving with friends who drove her to the airport so she could get a flight to the UK.

Maria was allowed to enter the UK as she has documents to back up her arrival, having a visitor visa she had applied for ahead of the Russian invasion as she planned to visit her mother in April regardless.

Maria is now trying to apply for the government's Ukraine Family Scheme which would allow her to remain and work there as her visa is only valid for two months.


The UK Home Office guidance states that "Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa can apply under the family route for further leave without meeting the immigration status requirement, provided they meet the requirements for leave based on exceptional circumstances".

Speaking to her grandmother several times a day by phone, it is difficult to get her to the UK as she doesn't have an international passport and the process of doing so was incomplete before Maria left.

Maria is now appealing to the UK government to simplify the route for others in the same position as she recalled the airport in Slovakia never even taking note of what type of passport she held.

"We are just trying to escape the war. We are just trying to make a future for our families," she said.