Little Polina’s off to summer camp… and can’t wait to make friends!

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Little Polina’s off to summer camp… and can’t wait to make friends! More joy for Ukrainian war children as nearly half of places at Mail Force-funded retreat are filled

  • Among those looking forward to making new friends is Polina Levitska, five
  • She is among the first to sign up to a summer camp funded by charity Mail Force 
  • It is generously supported by our readers and is paying for thousands of places
  • Youngsters who fled the war to Britain can go on an activity course for free
  • Do you know a Ukrainian family whose child would like to attend a summer camp? Go to www.mailforcecharity.co.uk  

The Mail Force summer camps for Ukrainian children scheme has got off to a stunning start – with nearly half of places snapped up already.

Youngsters who fled the war to Britain can go on an activity course for free – having fun with other children and improving their English.

Mail Force, the charity set up by the Mail, is paying for thousands of places at camps all over the UK.

Among those looking forward to making new friends is Polina Levitska, five.

Yesterday, in the kitchen of her new London home, she proudly showed off her colourful drawings of rainbows, flowers and unicorns.

Her joy is a world away from the terror she and her mother, Natalia, escaped in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, when Russia invaded on February 24. Mrs Levitska, 33, recalled: ‘My mother called me at 5am, and told me, ‘Wake up – the war has begun’. Then I heard a bomb go off somewhere near.’

Among those looking forward to making new friends is Polina Levitska, five

She and her husband Ievgen, both lawyers, stayed put initially.

‘But at night, Polina could not fall asleep because it was always explosions and bombs,’ said Mrs Levitska. ‘She was scared. The whole night was like this, and we decided we just had to leave.’

They travelled to western Ukraine and after several weeks, Mr Levitska, 34, got a message from family friends in London offering to host them in Britain. As a man of fighting age, he stayed in Ukraine, but his wife and Polina flew to London at the beginning of May and, a week after her arrival, Polina had her first day at school.

‘She was so brave. She was not crying or telling me she didn’t want to go to school.

Polina shows off some drawings alongside her mother Natalia Levitska

Polina shows off some drawings alongside her mother Natalia Levitska

HOW TO APPLY

 Do you know a Ukrainian family whose child would like to attend a summer camp? 

Go to www.mailforcecharity.co.uk

Browse any of the providers listed to find camp locations and dates that suit.

Note that all camps are day-visit only, not residential, and transport is not included.

‘It was me who then went to the park and started to cry,’ said Mrs Levitska. ‘The UK has provided us with this opportunity and I want to make the most of it, for Polina to study here and to get this experience of life.’ Polina is among the first children to sign up to a Mail Force summer camp at St Mary’s Ukrainian School in Holland Park, west London.

‘Painting and dancing!’ exclaimed Polina, when asked what she was most hoping to do.

Her mother added: ‘Ukrainian children don’t need something extraordinary, they just need a safe, loving environment, empathy and support and normal activities all children like – sport, active games, music, arts and just having fun.’

St Mary’s is laying on English language classes, games, art therapy sessions and day trips for three to 15-year-olds.

More than half its places were taken on the first day of the Mail Force scheme. Other providers include Kings Camps and Premier Education. Ben Jones of Premier Education said: ‘We are proud to support this initiative and hope that the daily holiday camp spaces available for children of Ukrainian refugee families will provide a positive source of fun and social integration.’

  • ukraine@dailymail.co.uk
  • Do you know a Ukrainian family whose child would like to attend a summer camp? Go to www.mailforcecharity.co.uk 

Now minors CAN get a visa 

Ukrainian children will be able to come to the UK without a parent or guardian after the Government announced a policy change to the Homes for Ukraine scheme yesterday.

Unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 can apply for a visa if they have parental consent. A thousand youngsters have previously had their entry blocked, but security checks may mean it is a few weeks before their visas are issued. It is understood the scheme will be open to new applicants later this summer.

For weeks after it opened in March, there was no mention of minors needing to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, leading to confusion when applications were rejected. The change was set out by Communities Secretary Michael Gove, who said consent must be certified by an authority approved by the Ukrainian government.

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