Watch heartwarming moment Northampton business owner is reunited with her family from war torn Ukraine

"If they are not helped they will be killed, it's a desperate situation."

By Logan MacLeod
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 6:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2022, 12:34 am
Valentina (left) with sister Anya (right) and her two young children

A Ukrainian business owner living in Northampton has spoken of her relief and anger after being reunited with her sister and two children.

Valentina Potter, who owns popular children's play area Riverside Hub in Carousel Way, was reunited with her sister Anya and her two children at Luton Airport on Tuesday night (March 15).

Anya and her children have fled from war torn Ukraine, briefly stopping in Romania for 10 days while they waited to get across to the UK.

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Valentina, speaking to the Chron, said: "It's lovely. It's a relief. It's my sister, my closest relative. I have finally found her. She has spent the last 10 days scared with her two children in a small room in Romania. She didn't know the language, she was just sitting, waiting to come to the UK.

"The children are amongst other children now. It's all of a sudden gone from a warzone to a lovely little family holiday for the children. We are with family, everyone is happy."

Valentina said Anya has described what the situation is like over in Ukraine.

She said: "Anya said air sirens were going off all of the time; children were going to bed fully dressed in case they had to evacuate; they were just sat in the cellar; at 6pm the lights would go off to be on the safe side; water and gas has been disconnected by the Russians so there is no running water or heating; food is being sold at extortionate prices.

"It's very, very sad. Your house could be blown up any minute."

Valentina is now making it her mission to rescue another 10 of her family members, who are currently seeking refuge in Poland after fleeing Ukraine.

However, she has criticised the UK's visa system which has 'slowed the process of rescuing refugees down'.

She said: "Three days ago my family, who are now safe in Poland, had their house in Ukraine blown up. There is now a deep crater where their house used to be. It is decimated.

"It makes me feel angry. Although they are safe and have not died from the explosion, other people are dying from these explosions.

"Getting a visa is just a stamp on a passport. If the process was quicker, they would have been here two weeks ago, which would free up space in Poland for more women and children to flee Ukraine."

The UK's initial visa system meant that only Ukrainian's with relatives in the UK could come to the country. However, as of this week, British families can sign up to look after refugees and in turn will be given £350 by the government each month.

Valentina said she will be paying out of her own pocket to house her family members and that every Ukrainian refugee coming to England will be 'looking to stand on their own two feet'.

She said: "Ukrainians are hard working people who are going to come here and get a job. They have been misplaced through no fault of their own. I am giving them a shelter, get them on their feet and they will stand on their own two feet. They will work, contribute to taxes, buy their own food, and become valuable citizens of this country.

"No Ukrainian wants to take advantage [of the UK's hospitality]. We want to contribute. They just need a lifeline. If they are not helped they will be killed. It's a desperate situation."

When asked for her thoughts on her home country becoming a warzone, Valentina said: "I never thought it would get this bad. Ever since Russia invaded Crimea we knew this would happen, but none of us, not in our wildest dreams, thought it was going to be this bad. Ukraine is getting decimated.

"At the moment, the only way it feels like it's going to end is either die fighting or die without fighting."