Beauty salon

Ukrainian mother-of-two starts dream job at beauty salon after fleeing war zone

A Ukrainian mother became one of the first refugees to find work in the UK when she started her job as a beautician – and her boss is already singing her praises. Valeriia Starkova, 37, fled the war-torn city of Kharkiv with her family to move into a house in Cambridgeshire last month.

Now she has become one of the first Ukrainian refugees to find a job since arriving in the UK. Mum-of-two Valeriia started her new job as a nail technician at a beauty salon in Cambridge this week.

Valeriia, who has two children called Alikhan, 10, and Kamila, 12, and worked the same role in Ukraine, said: “It’s fantastic. I haven’t worked for two months so I’m waiting this day for quite a long time.

“I was hoping to get the job I love. I was afraid of not understanding clients and what they want, but after completing the course here I saw that it was quite similar and the customers are really nice and they help Me a lot.

“The hardest part was making my CV. It took me two or three days but without a CV you obviously can’t find a job. Of course I miss my house. Everything I had there- I miss bas. I had my whole life there..

“I miss my husband too. He’s in another country right now and he’s waiting for his visa. The kids haven’t seen him for quite a long time.

“It’s hard. My whole life there [in Ukraine] and I left everything.”

Valeriia lives with nine Ukrainian relatives in a property donated by local businessman Mick Swinhoe, who sponsored the family’s visa application. The four-generation family – aged between 10 and 90 – drove for three weeks through 13 countries to arrive in the UK at the end of March.

His new boss Charlotte Liddiard, who opened the CSL lounge in Cambridge last April, said her new hire’s application “stands out”. She explained, “She sent a cover letter with her CV explaining her passion for the job. It was just the right thing. I saw her working on her Instagram page and it was fantastic.”

Charlotte said Valeriia’s background – having fled bombed-out Ukraine with her family – cemented the decision to hire her. She said: “Obviously it’s nice to help. You have empathy for what’s going on. It’s just nice to be able to help and do something, otherwise you feel pretty helpless.

“It might be a small thing for me, but it’s a big thing for her. She has kids and a family – you imagine yourself in that position.”

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