Shropshire Supports Refugees co-ordinate a range of activities that help people settle into their new area, improve well-being, and fulfil goals for themselves and their children. To support the Ukrainian nationals who continue to arrive in the county, Shropshire Supports Refugees are trialling a number of different activities in local hubs. With funding through Sport England’s Together Fund, Energize STW have supported Shropshire Supports Refugees to provide a 20-week Yoga programme to take place in Shrewsbury and Telford, with more classes starting soon in other Shropshire towns.

The programmes started in November 2022 and provides well-needed mindful yoga classes for Ukrainian people who have fled conflict and are living locally. The yoga sessions are being delivered by a qualified instructor, Olesia, who is herself a Ukrainian refugee who has moved to Shropshire after the war in Ukraine started. Olesia is very well connected with the local Ukrainian refugee community and with the help and support of the Shropshire Supports Refugees team and the local hubs, Olesia has been able to get yoga classes up and running across the county.

The yoga sessions are providing a more holistic wellbeing focused approach to increasing activity and this is being well received. There is appetite to expand provision further across Shropshire to cover other established hubs which support Ukrainian refugees and to include provision for host family members too.

These sessions are enabling some Ukrainian refugees to get involved in local community activity, to not only encourage physical activity but provide a safe space where Ukrainian refugees can meet to support their broader health and wellbeing amidst the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Yoga instructor, Olesia, said:

“These yoga sessions are giving people freedom, filling the gap and recharging them. It is a 2-hour deep experience of mind and body.”

Olesia continued to say:

“These classes are supporting people to improve their health. Providing enlightenment, improving wellbeing and how we all move. The way they live. Every time they come to a class they are getting something new, unlocking another experience for them.”

One participant said:

“I practiced yoga in Ukraine and I am very happy to have a yoga class here, I feel much better after the practice, I really appreciate it.”

Another participant:

“I missed my yoga classes in Ukraine and felt very low. But after these yoga sessions, I am full of positive energy and feel much better.”

Ukrainian refugees ready for a yoga class

Ukrainian refugees ready for a yoga class.

Yoga Instructor Olesia is pictured in centre with her Yoga class participants.