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Ukrainian version

Ukrainian Youth Association in Great Britain [Спілка Української Молоді у Великій Британії] – a youth organisation which promotes Ukrainian identity and patriotism among its members. A constituent part of the worldwide Ukrainian Youth Association (UYA).

UYA emblem

Among the Ukrainian European Volunteer Workers who began to arrive in the United Kingdom in 1947 were members of the UYA founded in 1946 in Germany. In early 1948, together with other individuals, they began to form UYA branches in some of the camps and hostels in which post-war Ukrainian immigrants in the UK initially lived. On 1 July 1948 Myroslaw Szkawrytko (the authorised UK representative of the UYA Central Executive), Mychajlo Hryniuk and Ihnaty Fedczyniak set up a UYA ‘organisational centre’ at a camp in Tattershall, Lincolnshire, in which former soldiers of the Galicia Division were housed. On 16 January 1949 a general meeting of the UYA in Great Britain (UYA-GB) was held, at which its first National Committee was elected.

The head office of the UYA-GB was initially located at the Tattershall camp (1948-1950), then at the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) headquarters in London (1950-1960) and the AUGB branch centre in Bradford (1960-1964). In 1964 the head office was transferred to a camp site in Weston-on-Trent, Derbyshire, purchased in that year by the organisation and named Tarasivka (to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the poet Taras Shevchenko).

In 1950 the UYA-GB had over 2,300 members, aged between 18 and 30, organised in 72 branches located mainly in camps and hostels. The closure of the camps and hostels and re-location of Ukrainians from agricultural to industrial areas of the UK resulted in fewer branches, organised mainly in towns and cities with sizeable Ukrainian communities. The activities of the branches came to be based mainly in local branch centres of the AUGB. In the mid-1950s the UYA-GB switched the main focus of its activities to young people aged under 18, who arrived in the UK with their parents after the war or were subsequently born in the UK.

The size of the organisation peaked in the early 1970s: in 1975 there were 3,600 members and 35 branches. Subsequently, the number of members declined to approximately 1,400 in 1990 and 1,000 in 2000. In 2018 there were about 900 members and 13 active branches (in Ashton, Bolton, Bradford, Coventry, Derby, Leicester, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Rochdale, Stockport, Waltham Cross and Wolverhampton). Descendants of the post-war immigrants continue to form the majority of the membership, though, in recent years, significant numbers of the sons and daughters of post-1991 immigrants from Ukraine have joined the organisation, especially in Manchester and London.

For many years, most UYA-GB branches held weekly educational meetings for younger members, involving teaching of Ukrainian history, culture etc. Most branches had one or more performing arts groups, such as choirs, folk dance groups and musical groups, which frequently performed before Ukrainian and other audiences in their own communities or elsewhere in the UK. In some branches there were, at various times, active sports teams (mainly football, table tennis, volleyball or chess). Since 1949 the UYA-GB has held annual national and regional rallies, attended also by other members of the Ukrainian community. In addition to more formal proceedings, the rallies include concerts during which competitions are held between performing arts groups. For many years (1958-1992) the national rallies were held in Victoria Park and De Montfort Hall in Leicester, and since 1993 they have taken place at Tarasivka.

Since 1954 the UYA-GB has organised annual educational and recreational summer camps, mainly for 7 to 18-year-olds. Initially run at the AUGB’s Sydenhurst residential home in Surrey, since 1964 the camps have been held at Tarasivka. Occasionally, between 1959 and the 1970s, additional camps were organised in Scotland and in northern England (Thackley, near Bradford). Members of the UYA-GB also take part in UYA camps in other countries, as well as in various international UYA meetings and gatherings at the European and global levels. Since 1990 the UYA-GB has maintained links with the UYA in Ukraine, through the participation of its members in camps and gatherings in Ukraine, the hosting of UYA members from Ukraine at camps in the UK, etc.

Before the establishment of independent Ukraine, the UYA-GB frequently organised, or took part in, lobbying and campaigning aimed at drawing attention to the situation and events in Soviet Ukraine. Such activities included writing letters to the British press, distribution of information leaflets, and protests outside the Soviet Embassy in London, etc.

From December 1949 to the end of 1951 the UYA-GB published the Holos Molodi magazine (16 issues). From 1954 to 2005 a regular page entitled Holos Molodi, edited by the UYA-GB, appeared in the Ukrainska Dumka newspaper. For many years the Yunatskyi Klych magazine has been produced at the summer camps, and occasionally in the past (mainly in the 1970s and 1980s) some branches produced their own local periodicals. In the 1950s the UYA-GB published several books, notably the Antolohiia ukrainskoi poezii collection of poetry (ed. Volodymyr Derzhavyn, 1957), and a compendium to mark the organisation’s 50th anniversary was produced in 2002. In 1954, in London, the UYA Central Committee published a volume of photographs of UYA activities in various countries (Spilka Ukrainskoi Molodi na Chuzhyni).

The UYA-GB has been chaired by: Myroslaw Szkawrytko (1949-1950), Jaroslaw Deremenda (1950-1955, 1959-1975, 1977-1979), Ivan Krushelnycky (1955-1957), Petro Lenkiwskyj (1957-1959), Bohdan Harhaj (1975-1977), Jaroslaw Rutkowskyj (1979-1983), Wolodymyr Szlachetko (1983-1990, 1994-1996), Jaroslaw Semehen (1990-1994), Roman Panas (1996-2004), Bohdan Prychidnyj (2004-2012), Zenon Finiw (2012- ).

Ukrainian Youth Association

The UYA was founded in 1946 in post-war Germany, and soon spread to other countries in Western Europe (including Great Britain), to North and South America, and to Australia. By 1952 it was active in 14 countries, and in 1969 it had a worldwide membership of 13,700. In 1996 the Ukrainian Youth Association in Ukraine, founded in 1990, was admitted into the structure of the worldwide UYA. In 2018 the UYA was active in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ukraine and the USA. In recent years UYA summer camps have been organised in Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic, with a view to establishing the organisation in those countries.

The UYA was initially an organisation for young adults aged between 18 and 30. Over time it adopted a three-tier membership structure comprising under-18-year-olds (yunatstvo), young adults (druzhynnyky) and senior members. The exact age boundaries between the categories have changed a number of times, and an additional category of 4 to 6-year-olds (sumeniata) was introduced in 1983.

The founding of the UYA in 1946 was regarded as continuing the tradition of an underground organisation of the same name in Ukraine in the 1920s. There are conflicting views over whether such an organisation actually existed, or whether its existence (alongside the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine) was fabricated by the Soviet authorities as a pretext for the arrest and conviction of Ukrainian intellectuals in 1929-1930.

Roman Krawec

Bibliography

Sposterihach, ‘1-shyi Kraiovyi Ziizd SUM-u v Menchesteri: SUM u V. Brytanii orhanizatsiino zakriplenyi’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 23 January 1949, p. 4

Spilka Ukrainskoi Molodi na Chuzhyni: Fotoalbom, ed. by I. Fedczyniak and Ya. Deremenda (London, 1954)

Vaskovych, H., ‘Ukrainian Youth Association’, in Encyclopedia of Ukraine, volume V (St-Z), ed. by D. Husar-Struk (Toronto, 1993), pp. 455-457

Prystaiko, V., Shapoval, Yu., Sprava “Spilky Vyzvolennia Ukrainy”: Nevidomi dokumenty i fakty (Kyiv, 1995)

Spilka Ukrainskoi Molodi u Velykii Brytanii: Ponad pivstolittia pratsi z moloddiu, ed. by R. Panas, W. Szlachetko and W. Pawliuk (London, 2002)

Bilokin, S., ‘Sprava “Spilky Vyzvolennia Ukrainy” i perspektyvy yii dalshoho vyvchennia’, Istoriohrafichni doslidzennia v Ukraini (Kyiv), 2012, no. 22, pp. 385-442

Androshchuk, O. V., ‘Spilka Ukrainskoi Molodi (SUM)’, in Entsyklopediia istorii Ukrainy, vol. 9, Pryl-S (Kyiv, 2012), pp. 753-754

Nebesniak, Ye, ‘Do 65-richchia SUM u Velykii Brytanii’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 7 October 2013, pp. 7, 14