Over 100 people gathered in Sheffield Cathedral last night to commemorate the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

The event consisted of an evening eucharist with Ukrainian orthodox prayer and was followed by live traditional Ukrainian music. The cathedral is also hosting an exhibition of artworks created by wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

Organised by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, the music was performed by Ukrainian refugees and included songs played on the Bandura, an ancient Ukrainian instrument. 

Event organiser Tanya Klymenko said: “It means a huge amount to the refugees because despite the warmest welcome we got from locals who opened their hearts and homes, it is still important for people to have a sense of belonging and to speak their own language.”

According to Sheffield City Council, more than 800 refugees have arrived in Sheffield during the past two years as part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Mrs Klymenko, however, estimates that there have been around 1,000 new arrivals, accounting for those with an extended family visa.

Anna Kovalenko, a Ukrainian refugee attending the event, said: “It is unfortunate that this is the second anniversary of the war but this was really precious for us. We try to keep together because it is really important for our people and for our children.”

Mrs Kovalenko came to the UK in 2022 with her two sons and had to leave her husband in Ukraine.

She added: “I think this is the best place for us to be in. I am really grateful to Sheffield and can say that our lives continue here.”

Many women refugees have had to leave their husbands behind and are counting the days until they are able to go back to Ukraine.

“I want to emphasise that the war in Europe is still raging and Ukraine needs your support as much as it did two years ago. Please don’t give up on Ukraine,” said Mrs Kovalenko.

The event connected different communities, including the Ukrainian Society at the University of Sheffield. 

Founder of the society Roksolana Rohozhynska said: “I loved it. I am so grateful that we now have a big Ukrainian society in Sheffield. It is great to see so much support from people from other countries uniting with us for one purpose.”