Seven-year-old is among the first Ukrainian war children to sign up to Mail Force-funded summer camp


Smile that says… I’m off to summer camp soon! Beaming seven-year-old is among the first Ukrainian war children to sign up to Mail Force-funded retreat

  • Do you know a Ukrainian family whose child would like to attend a summer camp? Go to www.mailforcecharity.co.uk 
  • After terror of Russian bombing, seven-year-old Milana is learning to smile again
  • She is among the first to sign up to a summer camp funded by charity Mail Force
  • It is generously supported by our readers and is paying for thousands of places 

After the terror of Russian bombing, seven-year-old Milana is learning to smile again.

Playing in the garden of her new British home, she is among the first to sign up to a summer camp funded by Mail Force.

The charity set up by the Mail, and generously supported by our readers, is paying for thousands of places for Ukrainian children who have fled the war for the UK.

HOW TO APPLY

 Do you know a Ukrainian family whose child would like to attend a summer camp? 

Go to www.mailforcecharity.co.uk

Browse any of the providers listed to find camp locations and dates that suit.

Note that all camps are day-visit only, not residential, and transport is not included.

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It has secured spots at leading summer camp providers across the country, where youngsters can take part in outdoor sports, practise English and make friends.

Almost two-thirds of Ukraine’s children have been forced to flee their homes. Newly arrived Ukrainian families in the UK, or anyone on their behalf including Mail readers and host families, can now book summer camp places.

The scheme was launched yesterday and prompted a flood of applications to Mail Force’s partners providing the camps.

Among the first to sign up was Milana, who will attend a Kings Camps activity week near her new home in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Her mother, Inha Demydova, 32, told how they escaped Ukraine after cowering for five days in their home in the port city of Odesa. Mrs Demydova’s husband Anton, also 32, was not allowed to leave with them, like all Ukrainian men of fighting age.

She said: ‘We heard so many explosions. It was terrible. We were panic-stricken. Every time, in your heart, there was some hope it would end, but after five days stuck in a room with my daughter saying, “Why do they want to kill us?”, I knew we had to leave. You only need one rocket, one bomb, to kill you.’ 

They fled to Britain after hearing Boris Johnson announce the refugee programme.

She said: ‘Anton told me: “You speak English and Milana speaks English – it will be easier in the UK.” You have to think as a parent – about your child’s safety.

‘We had 30 minutes to pack, and I could only bring two toys for Milana. I could only have one bag, as I needed to be able to hold her hand.’

Milana is looking forward to her week on the Kings Camps course. 

Spreading her wings: Milana, seven, fled with her mother from Odesa after five days of relentless Russian bombing

Spreading her wings: Milana, seven, fled with her mother from Odesa after five days of relentless Russian bombing

Milana and her mother, Inha Demydoda, are now living in Wilmslow, Cheshire, after fleeing Ukraine

Milana and her mother, Inha Demydoda, are now living in Wilmslow, Cheshire, after fleeing Ukraine

‘She still doesn’t feel normal and she’s shyer than before,’ said her mother. 

‘So it’s fantastic that she is going on a summer camp week. It means she’ll be with other children – playing and talking with them, doing fun activities.’ 

Kings Camps are open to five to 14-year-olds, and sprinkled around England, Scotland and Wales, making use of the sports facilities of top independent schools and universities.

Premier Education is running summer camps at more than 200 venues across England for primary-aged children to try out everything from athletics and arts to badminton and drama.

In Northern Ireland, the Smile Club puts on swimming, orienteering and talent shows among a host of activities for four to 14-year-olds.

In London, St Mary’s Ukrainian School is laying on English classes, games, art therapy and day trips for three to 15-year-olds.

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