Helen Tkachenko

English Language Learning award


English Language Learning Award

Helen arrived in the UK with her family as a war refugee from Ukraine. While completing her ESOL and Community Interpreting courses at Redbridge Institute of Adult Education, she volunteered to support others from the Ukrainian community, setting up a dedicated community centre. Helen is now a valuable member of the team at Work Redbridge, where she helps people find education and employment opportunities.

“When I arrived in the UK with my husband and two young daughters, I felt very unsure and extremely worried about my future. I spoke very little English and apart from my immediate family, I knew no one.

“My learning journey has changed my life. It has improved my self-confidence and mental wellbeing, enabling me to adapt to life in a foreign country. Professionally, gaining English language and translation skills and certification has opened doors, leading to meaningful and satisfying employment at Redbridge Council.

“However, the most profound impact has been on the Ukrainian community more broadly. My work – paid and unpaid – is focused on uniting and empowering the Ukrainian community through networking, education, and the provision of emotional and practical support.

“By aiding newcomers in adapting to London life, organising activities, and creating a welcoming atmosphere, I would like to believe that I have helped to create a sense of belonging, despite the challenges of immigration and war.”

Sarah Cremer, Programme Manager at Redbridge Institute of Adult Education, said: “Despite having very limited English when she arrived in the UK, Helen has managed to create a new personal and professional life. She uses her own experiences, and the knowledge she has gained since her own relocation, to support her fellow refugees and help them adapt to life in the UK. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, challenges and apprehension, Helen’s enthusiasm, hard work and dedication have never failed her, nor has her commitment to helping her fellow Ukrainians.”