Ukrainian Walking Tours
2034. Maria Romanenko
Maria Romanenko, originally from Kyiv and living in Manchester, is a Ukrainian journalist offering free walking tours of Manchester for over 500 Ukrainian refugees.
For Maria, leaving Ukraine was a challenging 40 hour journey to the border, followed by a four day wait before arriving in Manchester last March with her British partner, Jez. Maria wanted to help fellow refugees settle into the UK and used her fluency in English to help other Ukrainians, partnering with ‘Free Manchester Walking Tours’ to volunteer her time as a translator and organiser to help support those moving to the city from their home country. Aside from running tours, Maria also uses her skills and platform to campaign on behalf of Ukraine, fundraise and raise awareness.
Maria is currently offering free tours of Liverpool with ‘KR Spanish and English Tours Liverpool’ for the 3,000 refugee ticket holders coming to the city for Eurovision, as well as any Ukrainian refugee living in the city, stressing the importance of cultural events to help bring some normality to people’s lives.
In a personal letter to Maria, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I want to thank you for the inspiring way you have supported your fellow Ukrainians to settle here, after your own difficult journey to the UK last year with your partner, Jez.
”When your countrymen and women were at their lowest, fleeing Russia’s abhorrent invasion, you reached out a helping hand – using your fluency in English to help them get support with housing and other essentials, and conducting walking tours of Manchester to help them feel at home.”
“It is an honour to have been presented with the Point of Light Award. Whilst I am incredibly proud to have been recognised for my volunteering and advocacy efforts, representing the people of Ukraine, receiving the award is bittersweet. Whilst we Ukrainians have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the British public, the circumstances around us being here cannot be forgotten. It is both my duty and my privilege to be able to support the Ukrainian community here in the UK. I would like to thank ‘Free Manchester Walking Tours’ and ‘KR Spanish and English Tours Liverpool’ for their support and assistance; and also my partner Jez for his unwavering help and encouragement.”