Our Global Community


Paul Smith (The Managing Director of Functional Skills U.K. and the Brighton Swimming Centre) lead a campaign collecting aid and transporting supplies to the Ukraine.

“From the outset Russian invasion of the Ukraine shocked people around the world and there was an outpouring of support for the suffering it caused the Ukrainian people – with the resources of  my organisation and my network of friends  I wanted to do something practical to help”

– Paul Smith


01. Rosti

At the age of 16, Rosti is one of our youngest learners. Having arrived in Brighton in March 2022, he naturally looked for not just support but a community. While looking for a way to support his family, he found a job at Brighton Swimming Centre and started to train as a lifeguard with Functional Skills UK.

While most people do not start to train as a swimming teacher until they are at least 18 years of age, Rosti progressed with FSUK to achieve this feat in December of 2022. He accomplished this at 16, in a foreign country and in his third language. FSUK are incredibly proud to have helped him find direction and employment and has become a highly valued member of our teaching and lifeguarding staff.

‘There is a chronic shortage of staff in the leisure industry and its fantastic to have Rosti with us – he is well skilled thanks to FSUK and incredibly hard working. We need many more like him.’ – Brighton Swimming Centre Manager

02. Dariia

Dariia Semenenko is an English teacher, who lives in Brighton with her son. At 41 years old, she came to the UK a year ago to escape the war in her home country. Previously in Ukraine, she taught English to high school students and adults, and when she arrived in Brighton was eager to continue teaching. She is passionate about helping people improve their language skills and found out about Functional Skills UK, a company that offers courses in various subjects, including English.

‘Working with Functional Skills UK has been a great experience for me. I enjoy helping students of all ages and backgrounds to improve their language skills, and I appreciate the supportive and collaborative environment of the company.’ – Dariia

In her personal life, she enjoys spending time with my son and exploring the beautiful city of Brighton. Despite the challenges of starting over in a new country, she’s grateful for the opportunity to continue pursuing her passion for teaching and helping others.


03. Mila

Mila’s journey to becoming a photographer started at a young age. She was always captivated by the art of capturing moments and would constantly experiment with composition, lighting, and various photography techniques to capture unique and compelling images. As she got older, her skills and experience as a photographer grew, and she started receiving positive feedback from friends, family, and even strangers who appreciated her work. Encouraged by this feedback and her own passion for photography, she made a decision to turn her hobby into a profession.

As her portfolio and reputation grew, she continued to work hard, build her brand, and refine her style. When she arrived in the United Kingdom, she was faced with barriers that made it hard to pursue her passion. A contact at the Job Centre provided her with information about Functional Skills UK and she undertook am English language and Business course. Completing these courses has provided her with valuable knowledge and skills, which she can utilize in her professional endeavours and effectively communicate with English-speaking clients or partners.

‘In the UK, I continue to develop my skills as a photographer, actively seek out clients, and conduct photoshoots. I strive to stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in photography, while constantly improving my craft. This involves marketing my services through various channels, such as online platforms and social media, and networking with potential clients and collaborators.’

04. Self-Employment Programme

As part of our push to help our diverse community, we developed and set up a self-employment programme that would give a step-up for those looking to get into business. The programme provided an opportunity to the candidates to gain employability and enterprise skills and understand how to get started as self-employed in the UK. The guest speakers shared their journey in building their own businesses and gave the candidates an insight into the world of business in the UK.

Hopefully, it inspired our learners to put their ideas and skills into practice and get started on their own journey as self-employed individuals.


05. Maryna

Maryna is a 23-year-old Ukrainian refugee. She made the incredibly difficult decision to move to Brighton, alone. As soon as the war started, her dad volunteered to fight staying alongside her mother and brother who continued work in Ukraine. Luckily her journey over to the UK was supported by an amazing host family who gave her the help she deserved. Despite graduating from university with a degree in Jurisprudence: Civil Law and Procedure, she immediately encountered a language barrier on arrival that made it difficult to find employment.

She was advised by a friend to take English lessons with Functional Skills UK. After being paired up with a professional tutor, with over 20 years of experience, Maryna attended lessons 3 times a week, visited English speaking clubs, and explored further lessons at a church. After 9 months, her stocisim, hard-work and determination was recognised by Functional Skills UK and was offered a position in the company. She has become a welcome and valued member of the team and has helped strengthen the relationship between FSUK and the Ukrainian community.

‘I have always dreamed of having a job where every day is different and you can work on different projects surrounded by a friendly and energetic team, and I can sincerely confirm that my dream has come true.


06. Yana

Yana is a 28-year-old refugee from Ukraine.  She graduated from the National Pedagogical University in Ukraine and got a job as a kindergarten teacher until eventually becoming an animator in a children’s theatre. Each summer she worked as a counsellor in children’s summer camps and so for the last 5 years has dedicated her life to children. She has continuously tried to develop herself in the field of pedagogy but the situation in her country changed everything.

When she came to the UK, she heard about the Ukrainian Community that was growing at Functional Skills UK. She wanted to help as best she could and so created and teaches a Ukrainian Kids club each week at the Brighton Swimming Centre

Class 1
Class 2

There are three groups of different ages, each with more than 10-15 children. She takes them on a virtual journey to different places in Ukraine, discusses national holidays and traditions and watch videos of what life was like before the war. In the classroom, the children learn to read, write, solve a variety of puzzles and logic tasks. Each lesson ends with creative activity: they draw, sculpt and make various crafts.  Yana is not just proud of the educational process but of the friends the children have found among classmates, as she knows how important this has now become for Ukrainians.

‘I have dedicated my entire adult life to children. Now I live in England, and I am very glad that I have the opportunity to continue working with Ukrainian children, helping them not to forget their native Ukrainian language and culture.’