Ukrainian woman ‘very excited’ to open hair business in London
A Ukrainian woman who fled kyiv on the day of the Russian invasion said she was “very excited” to start her own hairdressing business in south-east London.
Since February 27, Elena Lishchun has been living with her daughter, Anna Walker, who has lived in the UK for seven years and helped find Ms Lishchun a place to work near her home in Greenwich.
Ms Lishchun, 56, has worked as a hairdresser all her “life” in Ukraine and said she felt “lucky” to be able to hire a chair from Headcase Barbers in Greenwich Creekside.
“All my life I’ve worked as a hairdresser, I love my job and it’s the only thing I’ve ever considered,” Ms Lishchun told the PA news agency.
“I haven’t seen any negative side of me moving here, everyone has been welcoming and supportive and shared their support.
“I’m just very determined and focused to find work because I’m used to working…I’m very excited.”
Ms Lishchun, originally from Donetsk, Ukraine, had lived in Kyiv for three and a half years before the Russian invasion.
Her daughter, who works in human resources and has a child with her British husband, was initially able to host Ms Lishchun on a visitor visa, which she has now replaced with a visa under the Ukrainian Family Scheme.
“She never wanted to do anything else, she finds a lot of fun in (the hairstyle),” Ms Walker, 33, told PA.
“We started looking for where she could rent a chair and build her own clientele and business, instead of being employed by a salon, mainly because of her language issues.
“Luckily we were able to find a place that would rent a chair where she could continue to work.”
Ms Walker said she found a salon run by a Ukrainian who is willing to offer Ms Lishchun a chair.
Her mother is going to start English classes to help grow her clientele as local people have offered lessons for free.
“The biggest gap is English and English comprehension – that’s the only problem I see but I’m going to start lessons… I never thought I’d need English in my life at this level,” Ms. Lishchun said.
“There are locals that offer free classes for Ukrainian refugees here in Greenwich and the community has been extremely supportive of everything,” Ms Walker added.
Ms Lishchun said she left behind family, friends and a year-long flat in Kyiv.
She plans to return to Ukraine as soon as possible and still wanted to work on the morning of the Russian invasion on February 24.
“I actually woke her up at night because she was sleeping really well and couldn’t hear the war had started,” Ms Walker said.
“We called her and told her: ‘Get your things ready, you have to leave because the war has started’.
“And she said, ‘I have to wake up at seven to go to work. It’s a very busy day for me today.
Ms Lishchun already has some bookings with friends and family, but added that many Ukrainians coming to the UK might not have the same chance of finding work.
“I’m lucky, but other people might not be so lucky,” she said.
“It will be more difficult for them to settle down.
“The situation will be different for people who have family here and people who come under the Homes for Ukraine program.”
Ms Walker added that she found it “really, really comforting” for her mum to have access to medicine and a GP here in the UK.
“The biggest thing for me was that she was safe,” she said.
“But obviously once she was here we really appreciated that she could stay here, that she could work here, that she could also get support from the NHS.
“We have a bit more of a positive view of the future.”