More than 21,000 people have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine and many are hoping for an opportunity to find work and return to ‘usual life’.
One of them is Kateryna Kryvenko, 17, who has been living in Cork with a host family for three weeks.
Kateryna has lived in kyiv all her life and is a student of catering and food technology at a university in the city.
She fled Ukraine on March 6 with her grandmother, aunt and cousin, leaving behind her father.
“One day we heard that people emigrating from Bucha were being killed, so we decided to leave because it was very dangerous to stay in Kyiv,” she explained.
“It was difficult, but we understood that we had to leave,” she added.
While waiting for a train in Kyiv, Kateryna’s grandmother suffered a stroke and had to seek treatment in Poland once she arrived.
After a long and difficult journey, Kateryna, her aunt, cousin and grandmother are happy to be in Cork now, having been helped along the way by an Irish volunteer group, Safe Harbor for Ukraine.
They are staying with a host family that Kateryna describes as “so generous”. She has already made friends and enjoys exploring the city.
“There are a lot of Ukrainian flags in Cork so it feels like home,” she said.
She is still studying in Cork, but now she hopes to find a job to help her get back to routine and some form of ‘usual life’.
“I always [worked] somewhere in Kyiv. I’m always doing something, going somewhere… so I need to end my day with something.”
Meanwhile, many industries are currently experiencing staff shortages, especially hospitality. In Galway, a hotel has already hired six Ukrainian women as employees.
Maryna, Anna, Anastasiya, Yulia, Mila and Maya are in their third week working at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel after arriving from Ukraine.
They work a maximum of 20 hours per week.
Manager Brian Hughes said the jobs helped them take their minds off of what was going on at home and also helped address the hotel’s lack of staff.
“We have been open since January 28 and since then it has been difficult to have a team of people around us to run the hotel to full capacity, so that has been a huge help and a huge boost for us,” he said. mentioned.
Other companies have also shown interest in recruiting Ukrainian refugees. In Cork, Ernest Cantillon, owner of Sober Lane and Electric, said he had managed to retain most of his staff during the pandemic, but in the coming weeks he will consider recruiting Ukrainians who might be interested in a work.
“I think it’s a win-win scenario,” he said.
After two years of “stop and start”, the chairman of the Cork branch of the Irish Hotel Federation, Joe Kennedy, said they were rebuilding their industry.
Currently, there are more jobs than people, he said, and recruiting new employees has proven to be a challenge for most industries.
“As an industry now, we are working to rebuild,” he added.