Space Is Supportive is an initiative that has come into being through one of Space's latest recruits, Olga Manmar, herself a temporarily displaced Ukrainian. Olga joined our team as a Sustainability Manager, and we discovered a mutual ambition to help Ukraine’s displaced families.

Today’s community of temporarily displaced Ukrainians are striving to move beyond their 'refugee' status and fully assimilate into the communities around them.

The UK's community has been extremely gracious, making it possible to find relief during this terrible time, however, these vibrant energetic people are keener than ever to deactivate the pause button on their lives.

They want to live, work, communicate, travel, and contribute to their local communities, before returning home to Ukraine when the war is won.

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Love Ukraine concept. Little girl show hands in heart form painted in Ukraine flag colour

Their challenge

Since 24 Feb 2022, 92,000 temporarily displaced Ukrainians have arrived in the UK via the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Nearly 2,000 of these are now based in Berkshire and Hampshire.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme helps displaced Ukrainians with a warm welcome from a hospitable British host, community support, and access to health, education and employment. It also provides access to essential items like clothes, food, toiletries, entry tickets, and bus passes.

However, this happy start is soon followed by a harsher reality for displaced Ukrainians. Limited English makes it near impossible to navigate unfamiliar rural areas using public transport or engage with the local community. Finding work is also made far more difficult, and without friends or family to offer support, childcare represents a substantial and unavoidable cost.

In entirely unfamiliar surroundings, without the support of friends or family, displaced Ukrainians are reduced to the passive and challenged status of 'Refugee'.

mother and two daughters are reading with the flag of Ukraine in bed
78% of the 1860 Ukrainians in Berkshire and Hampshire are mothers with young children.

How we help

While displaced Ukrainians are brave, determined professionals, their situation creates anxiety, uncertainty and frustration. Support is needed.

The Space Is Supportive initiative aims to provide:

  • Mediation sessions
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Social and educational hub for children

Providing practical solutions, skills and support will make a substantial impact for both displaced families and society at large.

Children draw the Ukrainian flag house on the pavement

Our current initiative

We're running an Autumn activity programme which provides weekly sessions for Ukrainian young people. The aim is to provide children with the opportunity to spend time with other children from Ukraine. The sessions provide the children with a chance to express their worries, as well as strategies to overcome them, while the talks are moderated by the professional psychologist and an activity leader.

Offered to up to 40 young people aged 11-18 weekly at Reading School, these sessions commenced on the 9th of November 2022. The first 6 weeks are focused on team building and social interaction with a range of activities and trips that will explore the importance of collaboration.

Space Is: Supportive current initiative, an autumn activity program which provides weekly sessions for Ukrainian young people

Olga's story

We arrived in the UK on the 15th of April 2022. We were leaving the terror and devastation of our home country, Ukraine, to trust our lives to a host family in the UK – we met online only a few weeks ago.

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme suggests that a host family provide you with a room, but we were blessed with more than that. Our host family surrounded us with support, kindness, and unconditional love and acceptance.

Portrait of Olga Manmar, Sustainability Manager for Space

After weeks of constant fear, my children finally started to feel safe again. Once I realised my family was safe, I knew I needed to start looking for ways to help other Ukrainians in need.

With a small team of three people – and the support of our local community of host families – we made it possible for more than 70 Ukrainian families to arrive to Berkshire through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

But we can’t stop there, there is far more help required for displaced families of Ukraine, enabling them to live healthy, fulfilling lives in the UK, before they return home.

We can’t stop the war. But we can HELP those in need. We can’t teach anti-bullying in the classrooms, while 45 million Ukrainians are suffering from one bully.
Looking up through the treetops. Beautiful natural frame of foliage against the sky

Space's story

Human lives. Destruction of cities. Cruelty and injustice. The war on Ukraine touched our hearts from the moment it began.

Most emotionally devastating to us were the heart-rending scenes on the news. Mothers and children fleeing their country, fleeing their homes, their lives. Unsure of when they would see their loved ones again. We were eager to help in any way we could.

Soon after, in June 2022, Olga joined our team as a Sustainability Manager, and we discovered our mutual ambition to help Ukraine’s displaced families.

While establishing and implementing a Sustainability plan and policy for Space, Olga relentlessly continued to support the local Ukrainian community.

Olga’s endeavours to help as many displaced Ukrainians as possible have now gone beyond volunteering. They’ve evolved into a formal community group, in partnership with the Berkshire Community Foundation – a significant local charity and member of the UK Community Foundation network.

displaced Ukrainians have settled in Berkshire and Hampshire

Committee & Advisory Board

Dr Chris Evans

Committee member

Olga Manmar


Nick Bond


Partners & donors

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