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Family

Ukrainian refugee sisters reunited and now next-door neighbors

Olya fled Ukraine to access medication for her epileptic child.

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By Josie Adnitt via SWNS

Two Ukrainian sisters have been reunited and now live next door to each other - thanks to help from some generous neighbors.

Sisters Olya Protsuik, 37, (L) and Iryna Stanier, 34, (R) are together again after Olya fled from the Russian invasion. (SWNS)

Siblings Olya Protsuik, 37, and Iryna Stanier, 34, have moved in side by side in the town of Bristol, England.

Iryna was already living in England with her husband David Stanier, 33, after moving here in 2014 to study for a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering.

But she became desperate when Russia invaded Ukraine - and wanted to help her sister and family escape.

The property next door had become empty after its owner was moved into a care home by his family - and she mentioned her plight to them.

She told them about her sister Olya, her husband Vova Protsuik, 38, and their twins Dasha and Danya, both 15, and daughter Vira, six.

They had fled from Ukraine to Poland and desperately needed help.

Olya and Iryana with their families outside their homes. (SWNS)

The neighbor's family unanimously agreed to help and began to organize for Olya to come to live next door to Iryna.

The family made it to Poland within a week of the war starting to ensure Vira wouldn't have to go without her medicine for epilepsy.

Iryna said: "It was a week into the war and although Olya and her family are located in the middle of Ukraine they decided to make a move for the border because it was easier to access medication for Vira's epilepsy in Poland.

Olya's new house was donated to her by a kindly British family. Iryana's house is right next door. (SWNS)

"They were in Poland for three weeks - in the first week, the UK government seemed like it wasn't sure what to do, in the second week I wasn't eligible to help because I didn't have settled status, and then in the third week they eased some rules and my husband became eligible.

"We tried to apply for a visa for them and had some issues with the status of the documents and waiting for the visa - it was before they had canceled the need for biometrics so it was a bit of a struggle.

"I think because I was pushing the media and my local MP, it helped them get a visa quite fast, they were only waiting four or five days before they got confirmation they had the visas.

"We had a talk with the neighbors before the family arrived - we have a three-bed house and they are a family of five so we knew it would be a bit of a squeeze.

"I sent my husband around to ask if we could use the property if we paid some rent but they came back to us and said it's yours to use.

"They said to make it our home and do what we want.

"It's good being next-door neighbors - my door isn't closed now and they like it because they have the space.

"The twins have been enrolled in a local school - we're lucky they admitted them.

"They need to learn English and it's just the best way for them to do that.

"Vova is already working in a local pub as a kitchen assistant and Olya had a bakery in Ukraine and wants to do the same here.

"She's already done some fundraising for Ukraine since being here and has raised £300 ($390 USD) through bake sales."

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