Ukrainian refugees given walking tour of Manchester by volunteers

More than 70 Ukrainian refugees took part in the tour, which was organised by Ukrainian journalist Maria Romanenko and Meghan Marie Grittith who is a guide with Free Manchester Walking Tours.

During the tours, the Ukrainians learned about Manchester’s rich history, from the work of Alan Turing to the legacy of the Hacienda.

Ms Romanenko said she was “experimenting a bit” with the tour.

She said: “I don’t think this has been done before in the UK, or certainly in Manchester.

“I feel like I can relate to the people coming here fleeing the war and I wanted to do something to help them feel welcome.”

Ms Romanenko fled Ukraine herself in the wake of the Russian invasion.

The journalist said she sees parallels between Manchester and Kyiv’s resilience.

She said: “What stood out to me yesterday is how Manchester keeps reinventing itself; for example, the IRA bomb in 1996, even though it destroyed most of the city centre, it allowed for this cultural rebirth.

“I think Kyiv can probably relate to that as well; (after) the Euromaidan revolution we experienced a cultural boom.

“I hope that the mention of these horrible things that happened to Manchester, such as the IRA bomb or the attack at the Ariana Grande concert, shows people that, yes, it’s very hard for Ukraine now but there is a way that people can unite and build something new.

“I hope that some of the examples mentioned in the tour can give people hope.”

Ms Romananko said the event also helped Ukrainians living in Manchester to connect with each other.

She said: “Two people had a friend in common but they had never met before, and it turned out that they have something they can talk about.

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“It was a great way for Ukrainians to meet each other so they don’t get too lonely when they get to what for most people is a completely new country.”

She added that she hopes the walking tour will lead to authorities doing more to help refugees find their feet.

She said: “There are people willing to give up their time but they don’t know how, they’ve never been approached by the Government.”

She added that someone from Manchester City Council had approached her before the tour to arrange a meeting.

She said: “It’s small steps like this, but hopefully it will lead to better engagement with Ukrainians and more effort from the local government to help them settle in.”