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March 4, 2022
We feel it’s important to support and champion the voices of our team and of those in need. This was true when we founded in 2017, and it’s true in 2022, when Ukrainian Trainee Solicitor Yuliya Prokopyshyn came to us about the invasion happening in her home country.
In this blog, Yuliya has taken the time to talk about the crisis and how we, and you, can help.
On the 24th of February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, the war between Ukraine and Russia started in 2014 and things have not been going well since.
Despite being born and raised in Ukraine, having most of my family and friends still living there, and losing people I know due to the "tension" between the countries (as the press has liked to label it for the last 8 years), I have never actually spoken about this crisis for a few reasons. First of all, I was scared to receive backlash for talking about this political issue. Secondly, most of the people I have spoken to about it either did not understand the problem or did not believe me, as the press kept insisting there was no war (as we should always trust the press, right?). Lastly, I was upset that no one was addressing it, so I did not bring it up myself. However, it is not the time to stay silent and it is Ukrainians who should start speaking up if they want the world to join them in this fight for independence.
I woke on the 24th of February to a message from a friend asking if my family was doing safe and sound. While we all have been preparing for this war for a while now, that message still felt out of the blue. I rushed to check the news and my heart stopped for a moment. The invasion of Ukraine started at 5am with a series of missiles attacks and Russian forces attacking the country from different fronts. While most of my family and friends live in Lviv, which is located in the Western part of Ukraine and viewed as the safest place in Ukraine at the moment, I was horrified. I immediately called my family to ensure they were okay while I kept checking the news, as I still could not believe that this had actually happened.
I spent the next few days in shock, barely sleeping or eating and just crying, checking the news, calling my family, then checking the news again and crying a little bit more. Luckily for me, I live and work in the UK, so I did not feel a threat to my own life. However, I cannot even explain how it feels when the lives of your closest people are under threat and there is not much you can do to protect them. Moreover, I felt like I was living in a different reality: I would go on the street and the sun was shining, people were laughing and enjoying their lives, while I kept seeing pictures of injured people and destroyed cities on the news and could not get my head around how these two different worlds could exist at the same time.
The thing that kept me sane was the support I kept receiving from my friends, colleagues and even strangers. People who barely knew me would reach out to me and offer their help. They organised fundraisers and donated money and supplies to Ukrainian people in need. Some of them even volunteered to join the Ukrainian army and protect a country they barely knew during these dark times. I honestly have never thought that humans could be so kind and supportive towards each other. And yet, I felt and still feel anxious and overwhelmed most of the time as no matter what I do, I cannot go about my day without constantly checking my phone and thinking “My mom has not messaged me for 2 hours, is she alive?”.
If this is the way a Ukrainian, who lives in the UK and whose family lives in a safe-ish part of Ukraine, feels, what do you think Ukrainians who live and fight in Eastern and Central parts of Ukraine feel? I am talking about families who must hide in underground stations each time they hear an air raid as they indicate a new missile attack. I am talking about children whose kindergartens and schools were hit by those missiles, leaving them severely injured. I am talking about 13 soldiers who were massacred when they refused to give up a tiny Ukrainian island, or Vitaliy Skakun, who blew himself up to destroy a bridge and stop Russian invasion forces, or the rest of the Ukrainian soldiers, who, despite being outgunned and outnumbered, keep bravely fighting for their country. I do not think there are words to express how they truly feel.
While Ukraine is a strong nation that has survived a lot in its history (let’s just take Holodomon in 1932-1933 as an example, where over 4,000,000 Ukrainians were starved to death due to the terror-famine which was intentionally designed by guess who, Soviet Union) and the country will survive this as well, we all can recognise that Ukrainian people could really benefit from the world’s support right now. Besides spreading awareness, the best way to support the country is to donate supplies to your local collection points (the country really needs medicine and military supplies) and money to Ukrainian charities (particularly those that support the Ukrainian Army, as, without these brave guys and girls, we would not still stand).
I am not entirely sure what else I can add or what is the best way to end this emotional blog, so I will just leave it at “Slava Ukraini!” (and hope you reply “Heroyam Slava!”).
To support Ukraine through this crisis, you can donate to: