Guiding friendship helped a Ukrainian refugee come to the UK

Olha and her son have settled in the UK thanks to friends from Girlguiding's GOLD programme

27 June 2022

Girlguiding is dedicated to creating a better world for girls and young women.

All new members make the same Promise when they join, which includes to do their best and to help their community. Lynn, leader and camp adviser for Wiltshire North, is doing her best to help a Ukrainian Guide friend.

She met Olha in 2000 on her GOLD trip to the country. GOLD, which stands for Guiding Overseas Linked with Development, is an opportunity for Girlguiding members aged 18-30 to improve skills, experience new cultures and make a long-term impact for the better. Lynn went on three GOLD trips, the first to Thailand in 1992 and to Ukraine in 2000 and 2001.

She met Olha when she was 13 and a Ukrainian Guide at a camp in Chernivtsi. After her GOLD trips, she joined a Facebook group for members who have been on GOLD trips.

On 22 February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine and the world has been urging the president of Russia, Putin, to stop his attacks. Ukraine's army has been fighting against the Russian army, and the rest of the world has been using other methods with the aim of forcing Russia to stop its actions.

But more than two million people who live there have had to leave as refugees to try to escape danger. Olha, who now has a son, is one of them.

‘Olha made contact via one of the GOLD Facebook group members whose parents had never moved and so the numbers we gave 22 years ago had not changed. I found out that she had already applied via the Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor Scheme.

‘This initially means that she would need to go to Scotland to be found a host family. I reached out in the village where I live as I don’t have the space to host and within 24 hours, I had made contact with another family that are able to host her and her son.’

Lynn helped change Olha’s scheme to live in England instead and her and her son arrived in early June.

‘I feel incredibly honoured to be able to support Olha and her son flee conflict to a safe haven,’ says Lynn. ‘We must never forget the impression we leave on those we meet when we are delivering our GOLD projects.  22 years on, someone felt they needed support and reached out to contacts she met as a child and had kept the information from that time.’

In times like these the guiding community comes together, and we know you'll be looking for ways to help. If you would like to donate money to help those affected, several aid organisations have launched campaigns to support humanitarian efforts to assist the people of Ukraine.