Ukrainian refugees 'like family' – Maidenhead business owner

A Maidenhead business owner says she feels it is her duty to help Ukrainian refugees settling in the Royal Borough as they continue to arrive from their war-torn country.

Seema Goyal, owner of school clothes store Goyals, in Bridge Street, has been handing out free uniforms to Ukrainian children attending schools in the area to help them integrate into their new lives.

She is also in the process of training up a number of adult refugees in the shop with the potential of offering them a job in the store.

Advancing Russian forces have forced many Ukrainians to flee their homeland to unknown countries and cultures, and Seema said she thought it necessary to step up in their time of need.

Her efforts come after several groups have been created in the borough to help signpost refugees and hosts to support, while nearby cafe Rio Deli, in St Ives Road, has also recently taken on a Ukrainian refugee for employment

Speaking to the Advertiser, Seema said: “When we found out that lots of local residents had sponsored these families, we were ready.

“We are still doing [uniforms] now, it has not stopped for us.”

She added: “As a business owner, we feel responsible for all these kids and helping them settle in these schools.

“You can see the look on their faces when they are getting a new uniform and it is nice that they are part of the community.”

Seema said that she has been patient with her new members of staff as they begin to learn English and understand the UK culture.

One member of staff – Liudmyla Myshchenko – has been on a trial at Goyals after arriving in the country two weeks ago.

A former physiotherapist, she is learning English at nearby Windsor College and has travelled to the UK with her two children, although her husband has remained in Ukraine.

Seema said: “We are doing easy things with her where she is folding clothes and learning how to work in the store.

“The situation is very sad and I remember the very first Ukrainian family I served – it brings a tear to your eye. We a looking after them like family members.”

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