Dublin social enterprise supports Ukrainian refugee’s work

by Gazette Reporter
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The work of a Ukrainian war refugee forced to abandon her career as a tailor, will feature at Ireland’s largest craft and design fair this week.

Mother-of-three Elena Pozdniak fled her war-torn homeland with daughter Evelyn, seven, and son Yarolsav, 17, while eldest son Ruslan, 21, and husband Viacheslav, remained to fight for their country.

Eighteen months on, the 42-year-old has found work with Dublin-based social enterprise We Make Good, which helps vulnerable people find employment by training them in traditional skills such as sewing, knitting and metalwork.

Bray, Co Wicklow-based Elena works full-time as a machinist – and her and her colleagues’ work will appear at craft and design fair Gifted, which opens at the RDS on Wednesday. (Dec6) 

“I saw the advert online and said to myself that I had the skills they were looking for and could make the things they were making,” said Elena, who previously worked as a tailor in Nicolaev, in southern Ukraine.

Fellow Ukrainian Tanya Kazatkova, 45, also works as a machinist at the award-winning enterprise, which makes t-shirts, baby wear, tea towels, kitchenware and beauty products.

She left her home city of Dnipro to escape the fighting 19 months ago with her daughter Maria, 15, and the pair now live in temporary accommodation in the capital.

“I studied fashion design for four years in Ukraine and it is something I would love to do in Ireland, but I need to improve my English first,” she said. 

Since it was established 10 years ago, We Make Good has employed 26 people from marginalised backgrounds, including ex-prisoners.

“Anyone who comes to work for us is paid a living wage while they train,” CEO Caroline Gardner said.

“All our employees have either moved to full-time employment or education.

“Over the past decade, more than 150 families across Ireland have had their lives radically improved by We Make Good.”

The social enterprise has been given a stall at this year’s Gifted show

after soaring rents prevented it from opening a pop-up shop.

“For the past couple of years, we’ve had a Christmas pop-up shop in the centre of Dublin,” said Caroline.

“But it’s not available this year and we’ve been finding it hard to find an alternative and affordable space anywhere in the city. 

“We have been really lucky getting this space from Gifted.”

Gifted, the Contemporary Craft and Design Fair, will take place at Dublin’s RDS from Wednesday, December 6 to Sunday, December 10. Full details and booking can be found at www.giftedfair.ie

Featured manage: We Make Good machinists Tanya Kazatkova, left, and Elena Podzniak both fled their homeland of Ukraine to escape the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops and now work as sewing machinists with social enterprise We Make Good, which is taking part in this year’s Gifted craft and design fair at the RDS, starting on Wednesday.

Picture: Peter Doyle/Media Consult.

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