• Lydia Wilby is an A-level student at Hanson School in Bradford

IT has now been just over a month since the war in Ukraine started.

I remember waking up at six in the morning with so many phone calls from my friends and family who live in Mariupol. All of them crying and saying they might die.

Every day, me and my mum made sure to text them so we know they are alive. They started to lose connection because of how bad the bombing is. No electricity. Hardly any money. Food and water running out.

One family lives in a tall flat, and instead of hiding in the house, they hid in the corridors because there are no windows and they are less likely to get shot. Another family gathered all together in one house, with my godmother crying, struggling with her broken leg and her daughter soon to give birth.

It all started to get worse after a week. They were no longer active and their numbers would not ring. We knew nothing about them.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

All day, I would search up news in Mariupol to see what’s going on. Russian soldiers started to circle around Mariupol. Evacuation corridors kept failing. Innocent civilians and constructions were being destroyed.

It all started to affect me. I couldn’t focus on my sixth form work anymore. It is very hard to be happy when you know so many people are dying in Ukraine and you don’t know how to help.

Every day after school is now the same routine - I sit with my mum discussing about all the updates in Ukraine, praying that this war ends soon. My only wish is for them to be alive.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lydia in Ukrainian national dressLydia in Ukrainian national dress

My mum managed to add lots of friends and family on Facebook, which I didn’t even know about. I met my uncle who lives in Kherson. My auntie who lived in Kyiv but escaped to Poland.

I used to always doubt Putin’s actions. Will he really threaten Ukraine? He did. Will he really attack Ukraine? He did. Will he really release chemical weapons? I don’t doubt it anymore. He is that crazy and cares about no one.

People tell me if NATO helps Ukraine, World War 3 will happen. World War 3 has already started!

With many countries helping with aid and weapons. Lots of sanctions against Russia. Every day attacking Ukrainian cities with no control. Peaceful protesters getting shot. Nobody understands that your city could be next. Ukraine had no warning of this vicious war to happen.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A man walks with his dog near an apartment building damaged by shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine Picture: AP Photo/Alexei AlexandrovA man walks with his dog near an apartment building damaged by shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine Picture: AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov

My mum had moved from Mariupol to Bradford 25 years ago. She wanted a new life with more opportunities. I have lived in Bradford, in the same house, for 17 years now. At the moment I go to Hanson Sixth Form and I do A- Levels Drama, English Language and Art. I followed in my mum’s footsteps of becoming an actress. I absolutely love to perform in front of audiences to portray my talent.

I hear many negative opinions about Bradford and how Leeds is better but I love my city. I know the place off by heart!

What I love the most is how cultural the city is. You’ll never feel left out or different. I have friends from Poland, Italy, Slovakia, Latvia and many more.

When I was eight years old I wanted to know more about my heritage and begged my mum to join a Ukrainian school. Nine years later, I am still part of the Bradford Ukrainian Community, always getting involved and competing with different Ukrainian clubs.

My only advice to the world is to carry on protesting to try get rid of this horrible war. Carry on raising awareness.

Be thoughtful about the people around you. Try to donate what you can to not only help refugees and Ukrainian military, but also to help the volunteers who are helping Ukrainians to survive.

Putin is a war criminal, killing innocent people! Putin is Hitler.

DO you have something to shout about? Every week, on this page, we present an opinion column written by a T&A reader. It can be about a subject close to your heart, or something you’d like to raise awareness of, or an experience you would like to share, or your take on a local, national or international issue. Whatever interests you - we would like to share your thoughts.

If you would like to submit a column or article for consideration, please email emma.clayton@nqyne.co.uk or helen.mead@nqyne.co.uk