Billesley Staff Rally Around Ukrainian Colleague To Help Him Get To Work

Sep 03, 2023 | Blog

Staff at Billesley Tennis & Fitness Centre have come together to help a colleague and Ukrainian refugee to get to work.

Alex Shuhurov, who arrived in the UK with his mother and brother from Ukraine 18 months ago, now has a bike to help him get to work at Billesley thanks to the initiative of his colleague, Jennifer Lowe and the kindness of local charity Bikeability.

Alex, who’s 16 and currently lives around five miles away in Shirley, had been struggling with public transport since starting work as a Facilities Assistant at site back in May.

Duty Manager, Jennifer was aware of the work of Bikeability, so reached out to them, explaining that Alex was a hard-working young man who could really benefit from having his own transport.

Jennifer said: “I wanted to help Alex as he’s been such an asset to the team since we took him on. I already knew a bit about Bikeability, and had a contact at the charity. Each month, they kindly donate a bike to someone in need, and in May that lucky person was Alex!

I would also like to thank our other colleagues who donated a new helmet for Alex so he’s now all set for his safe commute to work.

In Ukraine, Alex was planning on attending university, but the war put those plans on hold. In March 2022, Alex, his brother Volodymyr and his mother Tetiana left their home town of Melitopol and flew into the UK unsure of what their new life would be like. They started off with a host family, but are now renting their own home in Shirley.

Alex has been back in education since September 2022, studying Computer Software Engineering at Solihull College. His job at Billesley is his first one in the UK and he made an excellent impression on Jennifer and her colleague Rona at his interview.

We interviewed quite a few people for this role, but Alex stood out. He was switched on, he wanted to work and you could tell he cared about the role. He’s doing 23 hours a week on top of his studies and it’s going well!"

The new bike has already made a difference to Alex. He said: “I’m very grateful to the charity for the gift of a bike. It’s made it much easier for me to get into work. I’d also like to thank Jennifer, who has been so supportive since I started at Billesley. The centre are training me for my Level 2 Gym Instructor course. I feel very lucky to have got this job."

Alex and his family have settled in well to life away from their homeland.

England is brilliant! The people I’ve met have been so welcoming to me and my family. I would like to say a big thank you to our original host family, the Gilmores. They welcomed strangers into their home, but showed us so much kindness.”

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