Entertainment

Paloma Faith inspired by Ukrainian women ‘holding the fort’ during Russian war

The 41-year-old singer met refugees in Warsaw a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The 41-year-old singer met refugees in Warsaw a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Paloma Faith has said the strength and optimism shown by mothers forced to flee Ukraine is “testament to the human condition”.

The 41-year-old singer visited projects supporting Ukrainian refugees, funded by donations from the British public through the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

To mark a year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Faith travelled to the Polish capital Warsaw to see how donations to the appeal have been put to use.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, she said: “I met one woman who had to come alone with her six children across the border and then she arrived in Poland with six kids and felt completely unable to cope.

“And in order to get her husband to reunite with her she had to take all six kids back and slept for three nights in tents because the newborn didn’t have papers yet.

“But what was really kind of amazing was her optimism and her vibrancy and strength, and I felt like it was such a testament to the human condition to be around these women that are really holding the fort.

“I just felt really moved by what these woman are capable of doing. As a mother-of-two I know how difficult it is to have children but with all of that on top of it.”

The British singer previously said she had been touched by how a heart-breaking humanitarian situation sparked a “human chain of kindness across borders”.

She said: “From the British public donating to the appeal, to local people in Poland using those funds to support refugees, to Ukrainian refugees volunteering to help fellow refugees, to children helping their mothers cope in the absence of fathers and extended families.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Paloma Faith meeting Alina, a Roma refugee from Ukraine, at a community centre in Warsaw (Andreea Campeanu/DEC/PA)

“I only hope this level of kindness will continue and be extended to other refugees facing the same issues across the globe, be it conflict or environmental disasters.

“After all, we are all connected.”

Faith performed at the Concert for Ukraine in Birmingham last year alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello.

The event, which was broadcast on ITV, has raised more than £13.4 million for the humanitarian effort in the war-torn nation.

During a three-day visit to Warsaw, Faith visited a number of different DEC-funded projects, including a refugee centre supporting mothers who had been forced to flee Ukraine with their children, and a Ukrainian school set up for refugee children to learn in their native language.

She said: “It was so moving speaking to young mothers who have fled Ukraine.

“They had all made the difficult journey to Poland alone with their children, some of them crossing the border while they were pregnant.

Paloma Faith with a first grade student at the Warsaw Ukrainian School (Andreea Campeanu/DEC/PA) (Andreea Campeanu/Andreea Campeanu)

“I met one woman, Emma, with a tiny baby and two other children and I could remember that feeling of trying to cope, trying to juggle everything.

“As a mother, all you want is for your children to be OK, to be happy and safe above all else – and you feel the pressure to make the best choices for them.

“Those women have had to make choices that no-one should ever have to.”

Faith is among a number of high-profile figures to have travelled to Ukraine and Poland to meet refugees since the outbreak of the conflict last February.

In June, American actor and producer Ben Stiller visited Ukraine, where he met President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian citizens as part of his role as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Oscar-winning American actor Sean Penn also spent time with Ukrainian people and Mr Zelensky during a trip to create a documentary about the Russian invasion.

Faith added: “Many families came to Poland expecting to be here only for a short period, but one year on from the start of the conflict, people are struggling with the reality of living in limbo for such a long time.”