Thursday, 1 Jun 2023

Eurovision – refugee to give free Ukrainian tours of Liverpool

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A Ukrainian woman who settled in Britain at the start of the conflict with Russia is offering something back to her fellow compatriots during May’s Eurovision.

Maria Romanenko, 30, who left the Kyiv region for Manchester last year, will give free walking tours of the host city Liverpool in the Ukrainian language.

Many Ukrainians will be arriving for the contest, which was won in 2022 by their nation.

Ordinarily, Ukraine would have hosted this year’s Eurovision, but the ongoing conflict means this is not possible.

Maria’s partner, Jez, was born in Manchester and was living with her in Ukraine at the time of the invasion.

The couple made a perilous journey to the Polish border, where they had to wait four days before receiving confirmation that Maria would be able to come to the UK with Jez, arriving in the UK on March 2, 2022.

Ms Romanenko studied for her A-levels in Oxfordshire and her degree in Leeds before returning to Ukraine, where she worked as a journalist for six years.

She decided to use her fluency in English to help other Ukrainians settle into life in Britain, and began offering free walking tours of Manchester in May last year.

“I have my partner here as well as my best friend from university, so I have most things that a person would need to feel at home,” she said.

“But there are lots of Ukrainians who came here with none of these things and on top of that, they don’t speak very much English.”

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Maria’s tours of Manchester have been a huge success, with each one being attended by more than a hundred people. Now she plans to offer tours of Liverpool in Ukrainian during Eurovision week with the support of a local English and Spanish walking tours company.

She said: “Thanks to the Government’s reduced price ticket scheme, there are 3,000 Ukrainians guaranteed to be coming to Liverpool who are refugees, so I thought they will be looking for something to do,” she said.

“Ukrainians will also be coming from overseas and will be wanting to learn more about the city as well as attend the shows.

“They’re open to people who live in Liverpool already but mostly we are hoping to attract people who are visiting the city.”

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