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OPINION: Podcast offers a fresh insight into tragedy of Ukraine and reveals importance of politics to all of our lives

By Karen Anderson

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The invasion has revealed the worst of humanity but brought out the best in many.
The invasion has revealed the worst of humanity but brought out the best in many.

I have been debating how to approach the subject of the war in Ukraine for a while now. When I started this column, my purpose was to do my best to raise awareness of what it is like to be a carer and what other carers I know are faced with and how they cope with the

minefield of trying to access support and respite.

And suddenly my mind was cleared, and I knew what to talk about this month.

You all know by now that I go for early morning and late evening walks every day.

While I walk, I listen to various podcasts on BBC Sounds. What can I say? I’m a news and current affairs convert after years of head-in- sand conviction that politics had no place in my life.

A podcast called Ukrainecast has launched, and I now use this to hear the voices of those who are experiencing the war first-hand, alongside expert analysis, without the distressing images that are on the news on TV and make it almost too painful to view.

One of the journalists presenting is Ukrainian. His family home is in Zaporizhzhia which is in the southeast. His mother was stuck in her home as her sister, his aunt, had been affected by a severe stroke resulting in her being unable to walk, talk, or even sit up. She was totally reliant on his mother, and obviously being bed-bound, not in a position to being moved up and down into bomb shelters.

Karen Anderson
Karen Anderson

Initially they had hoped that they could just wait things out in their home and indeed it was a couple of weeks before the fighting got so close that the decision had to be taken that they should leave. But how? The family worked to find an exit plan for them and eventually managed to find someone with an old ambulance who drove back and forward throughout Ukraine moving seriously ill people from dangerous areas to those of relative safety. He said some money changed hands but was still in full admiration of the bravery of this person undertaking these mercy missions.

The good news is that after a horrendous 24-hour journey where the only reason they got through all the roadblocks was the ambulance, they arrived in Lviv and his aunt is now being taken care of in a small hospital.

A sigh of relief? Unfortunately, within hours of their arrival, there was a bomb strike on an airport building on the outside of the city previously considered something of a safe haven and a staging post on the way to cross the nearby Polish border.

Everyone is suffering unimaginably in this conflict, but the story of how this one carer was prepared to try to wait out a war, then take on an incredibly perilous journey to try to the life of her disabled sister touched a cord with me. I listen daily in the hope of

good news for her family and for all the families torn apart and bereaved. We are all forever changed by what we are witnessing daily.

Karen is Mum to an autistic teenager and campaigns for the rights of unpaid carers to be supported in their caring role and involved in the decisions that affect their lives and the lives of the people they care for. You can find her on twitter @Karen4Carers.

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