Ukrainian sisters reunited next-door to each other in UK after neighbor’s help

Ukrainian sisters Olya Protsuik, 37, and Iryna Stanier, 34, and their families now live beside each other on a street in Bristol after Iryna – with the help of generous locals – arranged for her sibling to escape the war-scarred country

Siblings Olya Protsuik, 37, (left) and Iryna Stanier, 34, (right) now live next to each other in Bristol

Two Ukrainian sisters have become next-door neighbors in Britain with the help of generous locals after one escaped the war-scarred country.

Siblings Olya Protsuik, 37, and Iryna Stanier, 34, and their families now live side-by-side on a Bristol street.

Iryna was already living in the UK with her husband David Stanier, 33, after she moved here in 2014 for her PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol.

But when Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine at the end of February, she took action to help her sister and family escape.

The property next door had become empty after its owner was moved into care by his family – and she mentioned her plight to them.

Iryna was already living in the UK with her husband and family after moving in 2014



She told them about her sister Olya, her husband Vova Protsuik, 38, and their twins Dasha and Danya, both 15, and daughter Vira, six.

They had fled from Ukraine to Poland and desperately needed help.

The neighbour’s family unanimously agreed to help and began to organize for Olya to come to Britain to live – next door.

The family made it to Poland within a week of the war starting to ensure Vira wouldn’t have to go without her medicine for epilepsy.

Flights were arranged for them by the Brit family to fly over to Bristol and now the sisters and their families live next door to each other.

Iryana helped her sister Olya – who was in Ukraine with her husband and kids – to escape to the UK (Pictured: The families outside their homes in Bristol)



Iryna said: “It was a week into the war and although Olya and her family are located in the middle of Ukraine they decided to make a move for the border because it was easier to access medication for Vera’s epilepsy in Poland.

“They were in Poland for three weeks – in the first week the UK government seemed like it wasn’t sure what to do, in the second week I wasn’t eligible to help because I didn’t have settled status, and then in the third week they eased some rules and my husband became eligible.

“We tried to apply for a visa for them and had some issues with the status of the documents and waiting for the visa – it was before they had canceled the need for biometrics so it was a bit of a struggle.

“I think because I was pushing the media and my local MP, it helped them get a visa quite fast – in reality they were waiting four or five days before they got confirmation they had the visas.

The family escaped the warzone within a week of Russian troops stepping on Ukrainian ground



“We had a talk with the neighbors before the family arrived – we have a three bed house and they are a family of five so we knew it would be a bit of a squeeze.

“I felt my husband around to ask if we could use the property if we paid some rent but they came back to us and said it’s yours to use.

“They said to make it our home and do what we want.

“It’s good being next door neighbors – my door isn’t closed now and they like it because they have the space.

“The twins have been enrolled in a local school – we’re lucky the admitted them.

The twins still need to learn English but are now enrolled in school



“They need to learn English and it’s just the best way for them to do that.

“They will be studying art which they both love and doing their A-levels – it’s quite good because it will just be a few subjects they can actually enjoy.

“Vova is already working in a local pub as a kitchen assistant and Olya had a bakery in Ukraine and wants to do the same here.

“She’s already done some fundraising for Ukraine since being here and has raised £300 through bake sales.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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