12:55PM, Thursday 16 June 2022
Millie Rust-Clarke (left) and Aliona Borysenko
A jewellery designer and embroiderer from Kyiv is settling into her new Maidenhead life by running workshops at Norden Farm and teaching Ukrainian at a nearby school.
Aliona Borysenko, 33, was one of the first people to arrive from war-torn Ukraine at the end of March and was taken in by Millie Rust-Clarke and her family in Highfield Road.
An experienced designer of jewellery, Aliona was a blogger with more than 10,000 Instagram followers during her time in Ukraine and is now showcasing her skills in Berkshire.
As well as getting a part time job in a school near Henley helping Ukrainian children settle in, she is also running a workshop at Norden Farm in late June – an embroidery course for beginners.
And on Saturday, Aliona will be hosting a charity workshop at the arts venue in Altwood Road, where broaches can be made in support of Ukraine.
Host Millie says that the pair have struck up a friendship since they began messaging on Facebook when Aliona was looking for a home. She arrived at Stansted alone and still has family in the Ukrainian capital.
As well as her jewellery exploits, Aliona was also in charge of a biscuit decorating stall for children at Highfield Road’s jubilee street party earlier this month.
“When the war started we talked about the Homes for Ukraine scheme and whether it was something we could do,” Millie said. “We had a spare room and we agreed it would be a nice thing to do.”
The Maidenhead resident added the application process for the Homes for Ukraine scheme ‘felt like a very long wait’ but was eventually able to welcome Aliona into the UK at the end of March.
“It has been a really positive experience – she is very creative, and with her having very good English, we have got a very open communication,” Millie added.
“By trade she is a jewellery designer and embroiderer and it is intricate and slightly mind-blowing. “She can make all these things but she would rather teach people how to do it.”
Millie said that Aliona ‘loves Maidenhead’ and has had a big welcome into the town, with neighbours displaying Ukrainian flags upon her arrival in March.
“She has brought a sense of calm to the house as it can be quite chaotic at times,” she added. “The rug has literally been pulled from under her feet.”
Aliona said that her journey from Kyiv to the UK was ‘the most difficult’ of her life and she spent many hours without food, water and sleep as trains were diverted due to the fighting.
But she is now looking forward to better times in Maidenhead and plans to have a family of her own.
“I have lived my whole life in a big city but for me Maidenhead is the best place I can be – it is quiet and close to London, so when I want a bit of city life I can go there,” she said.
“Before I came to Britain I had nearly 100 propositions from people and I chose Millie – as a result I live in a wonderful place with a wonderful family.”
For more information on Aliona’s workshop, visit norden.farm/events/jewellery-embroidery-course-for-beginners
Visit norden.farmevents/free-jewellery-embroidery-workshop for details on her charity workshop, running on Saturday from noon-3pm.
More than 50 street parties are set to take place this weekend across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and the surrounding areas.