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Bristol graduate helps over 700 Ukrainians fleeing war relocate to UK

Yegor Lanovenko Yegor Lanovenko

Yegor as a baby in Odessa Yegor Lanovenko

Press release issued: 21 April 2022

University of Bristol graduate Yegor Lanovenko has launched a platform that is currently helping thousands of Ukrainians looking to resettle in the UK through a charity he set up in a ‘whirl wind’ response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yegor, who was born in Odessa, sprang into action on the first day of war, drawing on his contacts and resources to set up Opora, a charity helping Ukrainians to resettle and rebuild their lives in sustainable ways for the long-term.

Since its inception just weeks ago in March 2022, the online platform has signed up 15,000 active users (both Ukrainian refugees and UK sponsors), leading to over 1.5k self-reported matches between Ukrainian and British households, with 700 already successfully receiving visas under the Homes for Ukraine government scheme.

“I had to channel my energy into something constructive,” said Yegor, who now lives in London. “I’d rather be engaging with people directly rather than hearing about it all on the news.”

Sensing that the situation was escalating, Yegor had already convinced his mother, who still lives in Odessa, to extend her stay in London over Christmas, and is now living in Prague with his sister. With his immediate family safe, Yegor turned his attention to helping anyone he possibly could.

“I started off thinking ‘if we can just help five or ten people’ and then before I knew it we had developed and launched an online platform in under 48 hours, raised tens of thousands of pounds and were organising journeys through our travel partners for 100s of families who had received visas to reach safety. It’s been a whirl wind.

“If you’re in the right place at the right time with the right resources and skills then you’re obliged to help.”

Yegor settled in the capital after gaining a History BA and Masters in Philosophy at the University of Bristol. His background includes senior strategy and product development roles in banking and financial services as well as advisory roles to student-led start-ups.

Using their networks, Yegor and the other Opora Trustees were able to bring together a team of specialists including a city law firm, a global travel company, software development firms, infrastructure security experts and community volunteers to create a support network for Ukrainians looking to relocate to the UK under various Government schemes.

As well as providing a structured way for both communities to connect, funding emergency travel and providing practical advice to refugees fleeing the war, Opora’s main function via its platform is to facilitate access to employment opportunities, business grants for refugee-led businesses and other resources for successful integration and resettlement.

He said: “We have UK employers pledging to hire Ukrainian refugees, but how do they  reach the right communities, with the right skillsets to benefit from these opportunities? That’s where we come in, leveraging the platform and the data to ensure people can receive relevant, tailored employment opportunities. 

“It’s not only about finding a suitable sponsor or guest, it’s about the community support throughout the complicated process, before, during and after arrival. Through the platform, guests can access assistance such as fully funded travel from our partners, supplies for babies and mothers, employment opportunities, and more to come.”  

Yegor grew up in Prague and moved to Bristol to study. This has left him with strong links to the city and he’s keen to let Ukrainian students there know where to find support for them and their families.

“Bristol has a very special place in my heart and positioned me for everything I have done since. I have the fondest memories of the University and student community. I met my partner Sophie there, who is now a doctor,” he said.

But while Yegor may have made a life for himself in the UK, it is the war in his native country that has his focus.

He continued: “These atrocities aren’t close to home, they are home,” he said. “I have members of my extended family or friends fighting, others that can’t leave and others, such as elderly relatives, that won’t leave. They think ‘we were born here, so we will die here’.”

For those that can or are forced to leave, and choose to resettle in the UK, Opora can provide structured support and  to rebuild their lives successfully, whether temporarily or for the long term.

To find out more about Opora and how to support the work of the charity, visit:


Further information

Opora is a charitable company limited by guarantee (incorporated in England and Wales with registered company number 13964425 and registered office address Kemp House, 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX). Our articles contain the charitable purposes that govern our work and our non-profit status and are available to view on Companies House.

The trustees are in the process of registering their charitable company with the Charity Commission, a process that understandably takes time, and they are receiving invaluable specialist legal advice to facilitate this process. 


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