Working as the bombs fall: how our brave colleagues are faring in the Ukraine war

We #StandWithUkraine, and our staff in the terrorised and bombarded country. 

By William Furney, Reachology

Working during the pandemic was one thing, but with rockets raining down and enemy aircraft flying overhead, it’s another kind of deadly scenario, and one all too tragically real for the brave people of Ukraine — some of our cherished colleagues among them.

As the world waits for an end to Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European nation — a conflict now in its second month — we thought we’d reveal some of the heartbreak and terror our Ukranian workmates, at UK Linkology and our sister company Reachology, are going through. We’re eager to do everything we can to raise awareness and funds to help the people of Ukraine. Along with our own Ukraine appeal and staff donations, the British government has announced that it will match amounts given to the Disasters Emergency Committee up to £20 million.

Alex, 31, is from the central Ukranian city of Dnipro – which, like the rest of the country, is under martial law – and works for us as a web developer. He says his life changed at 5:30am on February 24, as Vladimir Putin ordered what the Russian leader calls a “special military operation” to begin, triggering fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces and civilians as they repelled the invaders, or at least slowed them down. It has led to the biggest outpouring of refugees in Europe since World War 2, as more than 3.5 million Ukranians flee their homes and cross borders in search of safety. 

Most of Ukraine’s 44 million population is unable to leave, however, and remains behind, risking the constant threat of Putin’s bombs that could wipe our their homes, offices and places where they shop in an instant. It is a life lived, and worked, in terror. 

Prepared for the outbreak of war

“I woke up because I heard explosions,” said Alex. “I was ready for the war because US intelligence said that war can start at any time. So I opened a news site and read that war had started: Ukraine was under attack.”

Taking in refugees: Alex has given his apartment to two families while he stays with his parents during the Ukraine war. 

Describing Russians as “terrorists”, Alex said that, fearing for his life, he decided to leave his home, an apartment, immediately. 

“After 15 minutes (since the bombs started to fall), I left my home and went to a friend, with a backpack. We had talked before about a plan — what we would do if war came to our country.

“So we would go together to the west part of Ukraine, to my parents’ house. But then it turned out that my friend’s mother didn’t want to leave and so she decided to remain with her. I left Dnipro on my own.”  

Getting out: Countries Ukranians are escaping to so they can avoid the Ukraine war. (Image: UNHCR)

Alex was able to work at an apartment near to his parents, but soon gave it up and moved in with his mother and father, giving his apartment over to 10 refugees, comprising two families that between them have four children. 

“I am a civilian, so I am not in the army. I continue working and donate money to the army and help people from the East. It’s hard for me. But I need to be strong and do what I can.

“I hope we win this battle. But the price is high. The homes of my refugees are destroyed. They are scared and don’t know when they can return to their homes.”

He wanted to say thanks to steadfast Ukrainian allies Britain, the United States and the European Union, for their unwavering support and repulsion at the Putin regime for attacking a sovereign nation and attempting, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, to “destroy democracy”.

“You are helping us with sanctions and weapons and helping our women and children. Our men are fighting and will stop these wild barbarians from the East,” said Alex. 

Getting on with the job in Ukraine

Another web designer colleague in Ukraine, Andrew, 43, said there has been shelling in his city, also Dnipro, but that there had been few, if any, injuries. He’s able to continue working but is constantly disrupted by frequent air-raid sirens, which means he has to leave his home and run to a shelter. 

Working in fear: Andrew, whose family fled to Germany, frequently leaves his desk as air-raid sirens go off and he races to a shelter for cover. 

And he lives, and works, in fear of a missile strike that will hit his building. “Of course I’m afraid,” he tells us, relating that two missiles streaked over his apartment several days ago during a bombardment of the city’s airport that the Ukrainian government said caused “massive destruction”. 

Andrew sent his wife and daughter to Germany shortly after the conflict began, unable to himself leave, like all other males aged 18-60 in Ukraine, in case they might be needed to fight the Russians. “I love my city, and I can’t leave Ukraine as the military have closed all the borders to men,” he says. 

On alert: Andrew’s workstation at his apartment in the central Ukranian city of Dnipro.

Unlike in other parts of Ukraine, where power supplies were knocked out as critical infrastructure was bombed, leaving residents with no heat or water, and food runs out in supermarkets in the capital, Kyiv, and elsewhere, supplies remain normal in Dnipro — for now. 

“The internet is stable and there are no problems with electricity or food,” Andrew says, reporting what may be a temporary normal amid an abnormal, if not surreal, environment. As we talk, the siren goes off again and he has to quickly leave and dash to the nearest shelter. 

“We all hope that this bastard dies,” Andrew had earlier said, of Putin and his war, a sentiment no doubt echoed right around the country if not much of the world as well. 

To these and other valiant colleagues in the war-torn nation, we say “Slava Ukraine”, as we wish for an urgent resolution of the conflict so that they and all Ukranians can get back to their former, peaceful lives.

The Ukraine invasion: how UK Linkology’s team In England reacted to the news

By Hannah Stevenson, UK Linkology

As the world watched in horror as Putin began his unspeakable attacks on Ukraine, many of us here at UK Linkology feared not only for world democracy and the safety of the country’s people in general, but also for those we know personally. 

Several valued members of the UK Linkology team live in Ukraine and are working to help their fellow citizens how they can. Everyone at UK Linkology hopes that they make it out of the conflict safe, and we’re doing everything we can to support them. This includes sharing our solidarity and setting up a fundraising effort to raise money to help those who need it the most. 

Some of the UK Linkology team described their thoughts about the conflict and shared messages of hope for the ordinary people caught up in the war. 

Account Manager Amanda Walmsley-Inglesant says: “The strength and resolve of the Ukrainian people is both inspiring and heartbreaking. It’s so horrific seeing families torn apart. The bravery that citizens of Ukraine have shown is breathtaking, and I wish there were more we could do. Ukrainian citizens have shown us that the power really is with the people, and we’re here in solidarity and want to spread a message of hope and support to everyone experiencing war and devastation.”

Financial Controller Michelle Hill adds: “My heart goes out to all the citizens of Ukraine and especially our brave colleagues. It’s good to get updates from them so that we know what is really going on over there. We are praying for peace to come soon.”

Content Team Manager Hannah Stevenson said: ‘I sincerely hope that this war ends soon and with as little violence as possible. No one deserves to be displaced and live in a warzone for any reason. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine during these tough times.”

Content Writer Lizzy Cragg commented: “I hope that the people of Ukraine stay strong and that the unjustified aggression from Russia will be over as swiftly as possible. I was impressed and humbled by the bravery of normal Ukrainians in the face of such adversity, including some of our own UK Linkology staff, who kept us updated about the situation in their home cities for as long as they could. We’re proud of them, and we hope for the best possible outcome for them, their loved ones and everyone in Ukraine.”

Her fellow content writer, Sam Ellison, added: “Being directly connected to individuals involved in this conflict, as we all are through UKL, really hits home. Knowing that our colleagues are not simply struggling, but that they’re literally fighting to survive, is hard to comprehend today. Of course, people suffer every day in armed conflicts across the world, and we shouldn’t let the war in Ukraine diminish that. It’s good to know that we’re part of a company and a community that genuinely cares about its team and strives to make things better for everyone, no matter where they are in the world.”

Senior Account Manager Yasmin Parveen said: “The invasion of Ukraine is a senseless act of violence that needs to be globally condemned. It’s important that we recognise any conflict that is currently going on and stand with those who face brutal regimes and have to flee their homes. No one deserves to be made to feel unsafe in their country and forced to seek shelter elsewhere, and I hope that every displaced person receives a warm welcome and support over the coming years.”

Account Manager Jack Totton added his thoughts: “This war has put many things into perspective and made us all grateful to live in safety. I sincerely hope that the Ukrainian people will feel that feeling again soon. This invasion is barbaric, and the resilience and passion of the people of Ukraine are awe-inspiring. They are going through the worst forms of hardship, and they are somehow finding the strength to continue the fight and stand strong, knowing that one day this war will be over. We hope that day comes soon.”

Summing up the mood of the entire organisation, Founder Jason Brooks said: “One of the many disturbing aspects of the war is the propaganda the Russian government is using to brainwash their citizens. If the majority of Russians could see the injustice being inflicted and the long-term damage, not only to Ukrainians but to themselves, maybe they would act to depose Putin and bring this horrible war to an end. For now, all we can do is offer our heartfelt support to everyone who is suffering as a result of the war and hope that it ends soon.”

We’d like to give a special mention to our courageous and valued colleagues Alex, Andrew, Denys and their families; we all hope they survive and that their country is made safe again for them to return to their ordinary lives as soon as possible. We applaud their bravery and their support of their fellows. 

Everyone here at UK Linkology is strongly opposed to the war against Ukraine, and we’re aiming to donate money and time where we can to help those in need. If you have any suggestions on how we can get help to those who need it the most, then do let us know.

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William Furney