Brits waiting to take in Ukrainian refugees are blowing up the government’s ‘broken’ visa system

Caring Brits who are offering their homes to Ukrainian refugees say the UK government’s ‘broken’ visa system is adding ‘torture’ to fleeing families.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme has been blown up by British ‘sponsors’ desperate to help the families left sobbing as bombs went off all around them.

Others fear those waiting in camps in Germany and Poland are “desperate” to give up their dream of reaching out to their new friends in the UK.

This week, Refugee Secretary Lord Harrington came under fire during an LBC radio phone show and admitted he was “embarrassed” by the slow visa process.

He confirmed that the “family system” – the system with relatives in the UK – had received almost 33,000 applications and received 24,400 visas.

But 200,000 Brits admitted to “offering their vacant rooms or flats to refugees”.

She was one of the first people to sign up for the program last month



He said of the sponsorship program, which began March 18, they received 32,000 applications and offered about 9,000 visas.

The checks, he said, should take “no more than 48 hours” but acknowledged it takes “much longer” and said it was a “complex process” of security clearances and criminal record checks of the host and fugitive included.

Mental health nurse Lauren Corbishley, 43, from Dawlish, Devon, was one of the first to sign up for the program last month and has slammed Lord Harrington after waiting weeks with no news.

The NHS worker, who lives with husband Ian, a 39-year-old teacher, and their five-year-old son Finley, was initially told it would take five days to get visas and decided to put up her foster family in a hotel in Poland .

But she’s still funding her accommodation weeks later and has to use her credit card to pay the £1,500 bill.

Her godparents, Yuliia Meshchieriakova, 40, her partner Glib, 36, an IT worker, and Maryna, their 17-year-old daughter and their two huskies, whose home was destroyed in the bombings, are beginning to fear the move will never happen.

Lauren said: “These people are distressed and traumatized. The mere fact that they have to wait now only prolongs this trauma.

“She was in Chrkiw and left her 20-year-old son to fight. She’s so traumatized.

Yuliia Meshchieriakova with her boyfriend



The family now fears the move will never happen



“She’s leaving out of sheer desperation and I can see she’s been on WhatsApp all night so she’s not sleeping. She goes in waves. She’ll be really positive and then she’ll crash.

In her last message, the Ukrainian mother said: “I can no longer spend your money, I’m ashamed … And the truth is, I really want to come to you, but I think it’s impossible. I thought it would be quick.’

Lauren fears for the mental health of all refugees, adding, “They could develop severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder which, if left untreated, could lead them to actively commit suicide or self-harm to cope with their overwhelming emotions, and they won’t be at the moment.” supports.

“It is absolutely crucial that the government does something about these people who are stranded because we will see a tremendous impact on mental health services when they come.

“The longer we wait, the worse it gets. Hosts are also traumatized by this process.

“Personally, having anxiety symptoms that lead to palpitations is really difficult for me, but I am equipped to deal with it, but others are not, and their symptoms could only worsen if the situation with the frightening ambiguity of this fracture persists visa system.

Lauren said she’s been told volunteers in Poland are now warning refugees not to bother applying for the UK visa scheme, saying it’s too difficult and “Britain doesn’t want you there”.

BAFTA winner Will Brenton, who worked on Coronation Street, slammed the government’s handling of the program as “shambolic and shameful”.

Will and his wife are waiting for a family of three, including a five-month-old baby, to come to their home in Hertfordshire.

He said: “There are families who hear bombs landing all around them being held in this hell of limbo because the government seems to be deliberately delaying entry and creating obstacles while claiming generosity in their PR releases.

“It’s a form of torture for those who need security. And where is Priti Patel? Why doesn’t she come out and defend this fiasco?

“The government shames us all. Let her in, get her to safety and we can do the paperwork.”

Paul Aitchison and his partner Helene Kell


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Paul Aitchison is also frustrated after he offered 11 Ukrainian refugees a huge farmhouse in County Durham and drove to Poland to pick them up, only to come back empty-handed.

The generous homeowner and his partner Helene Kell ended up spending two weeks abroad helping many refugees, including the extended family of five women and six children, aged four to 41, who are hoping to live in their old homes.

Helene, 50, told The Mirror: “What I saw over there will never leave me. I will always be grateful for what I have. People treat the refugees like they are homeless and nothing.”

Helene and Paul said the terror the children witnessed was plain to see.

Paul explained: “We were walking around Poland and a couple of helicopters flew overhead and the little ones panicked and ran to their mums.

When Helene pointed to an airplane above us, the young people said to her: “We don’t like airplanes, they scare us!”.

One of the youngest, a six-year-old, sat all day with his head in his hands, unable to smile and “traumatized” – not knowing when he would see his father again.

Anna in a refugee center in Poland with the two teddy bears that Helene gave her


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

Maxim after a six-hour wait trying to get a visa


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

They had fled Ukraine with only their most prized possessions, but when they arrived at the station they were told they could not board the train with their suitcases and several vehicles for his journey to Poland by his bosses.

He said: “In terms of government … they’re not doing enough at all.

“UK visa officers at a large fancy hotel I saw used Google Translate instead of interpreters.

“There is a diaphragm wall in the hotel that you can see through. On one side the visa team and hungry refugees and on the other businessmen in suits and boots eating a three-course meal. It’s a shame.

“These people desperately need stability. We let them down 100 percent.”

Sabrina and Tony Edge, from Driffield, have now fallen ill with Covid and fear the stress and sleepless nights caused by the visa process may have caused their immune systems to collapse.

They have set up their guest rooms for mum Lillia Malona, ​​38, dad Vitalii, their daughter Victoria, 17, and little sister Ilona, ​​six.

Ukrainian refugees face delays in obtaining their visas


Andy Commins/Daily Mirror)

English teacher Lillia said she was the “happiest mom alive” after Sabrina offered them a home.

But now that joy has turned to dismay as they await a travel permit from the Home Office.

Sabrina and Tony, ex-Londoners who have moved north with their three daughters – Emily, 19, Maddie, 16, and Kitty, 11 – where they could live in a bigger house, have written to Priti Patel and told her about the told inexorable delays.

They told her they had sent 73 emails to various government departments and MPs since March 5, made 52 phone calls and had been cut off five times.

They have also helped organize 15 people to join other friends across the UK but only one visa has been granted so far.

“There is no excuse, no accountability for these agencies, and we are the taxpayers,” Sabrina said.

“This whole system and process is a complete black hole.

“It’s cruel that this is dragging on every day and we’re wondering if our Ukrainian family is safe, if they have food, if they’re going to give up Britain.”

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