Ukrainian refugee’s work heading for Ireland’s largest craft and design fair

Elena Pozdniak fled the war-torn city of Nicolaev in southern Ukraine with her two youngest children 18 months ago (Peter Doyle/Media Consult/PA)
Elena Pozdniak fled the war-torn city of Nicolaev in southern Ukraine with her two youngest children 18 months ago (Peter Doyle/Media Consult/PA)

The work of a Ukrainian war refugee who has rebuilt her life in Ireland will feature at the country’s largest craft and design fair later this week.

Mother-of-three Elena Pozdniak fled her war-torn homeland last year with daughter Evelyn, seven, and son Yarolsav, 17, while eldest son Ruslan, 21, and husband Viacheslav remained to fight for their country.

Now the 42-year-old has found work with Dublin-based social enterprise We Make Good, which helps vulnerable people find employment by training them in traditional skills such as sewing, knitting and metalwork.

Ms Pozdniak, who was a tailor in Ukraine, has settled in Bray, Co Wicklow, and now works full-time as a sewing machinist.

Gifted, the Contemporary Craft and Design Fair, returns to Dublin’s RDS from December 6 to 10 (Robbie Reynolds/PA)

Her and her colleagues’ work will appear at craft and design fair Gifted, which opens at the RDS on Wednesday.

“I saw the advert online and said to myself that I had the skills they were looking for and could make the things they were making,” said Ms Pozdniak , who previously worked as a tailor in Nicolaev, in southern Ukraine.

Fellow Ukrainian Tanya Kazatkova, 45, also works as a machinist at the award-winning enterprise, which makes t-shirts, baby wear, tea towels, kitchenware and beauty products.

She left her home city of Dnipro to escape the fighting 19 months ago with her daughter Maria, 15, and the pair now live in temporary accommodation in the capital.

“I studied fashion design for four years in Ukraine and it is something I would love to do in Ireland, but I need to improve my English first,” she said.

Since it was established 10 years ago, We Make Good has employed 26 people from marginalised backgrounds, including refugees and ex-prisoners.

“Anyone who comes to work for us is paid a living wage while they train,” chief executive Caroline Gardner said.

“All our employees have either moved to full-time employment or education.

“Over the past decade, more than 150 families across Ireland have had their lives radically improved by We Make Good.”

The social enterprise has been given a stall at this year’s Gifted show after soaring rents prevented it from opening a pop-up shop.

“For the past couple of years, we’ve had a Christmas pop-up shop in the centre of Dublin,” said Caroline.

“But it’s not available this year and we’ve been finding it hard to find an alternative and affordable space anywhere in the city.

“We have been really lucky getting this space from Gifted.”

The show runs at the RDS from this Wednesday until Sunday.