Seven-year-old Ukrainian figure skater, who fled wartime to live in Bristol with her host family, has returned home.
Gosha Mandziuk arrived in the UK with his mother Iryna under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. They arrived there in April 2022.
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After appearing in Sky News‘s Dancing On Ice show, Matt Evers approached Gosha to train him. Gosha is a national competitor and also a member of an ice hockey team.
He and Iryna made the difficult decision to go back to Kyiv.
Iryna stated, “We are happy, and we enjoy being at our home, even during these difficult and difficult times.”
“This is the right decision for us. Because Gosha was depressed and crying because he was not with his father.
He was worried about when he would be able to see him again. Maybe he would be an adult by then. This made him sad.
“It took us, me, probably more than a year to adjust when we first arrived. Although it sounds odd, I needed to adjust again in my house and my home because there were so many changes.
“The city looked a bit depressed. You can tell that war was in the air.”
“They are part of our now”
Despite the constant threat of missiles, Gosha was able to resume his full training schedule at his local skating rink.
Iryna stated that “We are in a regular regime now – train three to five days per week. Usually, there are three lessons per day.
“Very quickly [after returning], we were already at the skating rink, with all our coaches, and a large team. We started slowly, step by step. It was hard because it was such a long break.
They spent four months with their host family in Bristol and they say they are still in touch.
Iryna said, “I think they’re part of us now. Not like friends.”
“It’s like being with relatives when I think about them, or we communicate via messenger. As aunts and uncles.
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“We would love to come back”
Iryna said that she hopes they can go back to England in a different situation.
She said, “We would love to come like tourists.”
“I would love to see them in Kiev, if there is peace. They would also like to visit, because I know they enjoy traveling a lot. Gosha would like to return in the summer.
Iryna is relieved to be home with her family but admits that it can be hard living in the capital.
She said, “We understood the risks.” “The risk is greater when we return now.” Is it our decision. These conditions, fear and anxiety are not for everyone.
“I don’t really want to go anywhere. We live in anxiety, not fear. Anxiety is quite high. However, I am unable to travel because it is difficult. You need energy to do this.
“At home we are calm because all of us are together.”