A Kettering woman who opened her home to a family from war-torn Ukraine says she is delighted that their visas have finally been approved after weeks of delays.
Beccy Hurrell and her family sponsored a mother and her two children, whom we do not name, who fled Poltava when the Russian invasion began.
They are currently in Poland and wanted to travel to the UK under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, applying for visas on April 10.
But they faced weeks of delays, leaving them nervous about their future, and Beccy turned to the Northants Telegraph who approached the Ministry of the Interior. This morning (Tuesday), the same day this newspaper ran an article about Beccy’s frustrations, their visas were finally given the green light.
It is now hoped that the Ukrainian family will be in Kettering later this week.
Beccy said: “I am absolutely delighted and relieved that the travel permits have finally arrived.
“We can now bring them here safely and help them restart their lives and allow them to mourn their country and all that they have been through.”
The Ukrainian mother and her children, a six-year-old girl and a boy who turned one last week, fled eastern Ukraine and crossed the border into Poland, which has taken in more than three million refugees, March 3.
After traveling to Warsaw for the biometric collection, they are currently in Gdansk and have been holding video calls with Beccy, mum of three.
They were “worried” about the delays and feared to return home, where Russian rocket attacks have intensified.
Beccy had told the Northants Telegraph she felt helpless because of the delays, that her attempts to find out what was going on felt like “banging her head against a brick wall”, and that the problems were infuriating.
But now she will finally be able to provide a safe space for refugees in her family home, where her eldest son has left his bedroom to share with his brother to make room.
A government spokesman previously said he could not comment on individual cases.
They said: “In response to Putin’s barbaric invasion, we have launched one of the fastest and largest visa programs in UK history…the changes made by the Ministry of the Interior to streamline the visa system, including simplifying forms and increasing staff, are working. and we now process visas as quickly as they arrive, allowing thousands more Ukrainians to pass through our uncapped routes.
As of May 11, there had been 87,200 visa applications under the UK’s Ukrainian sponsorship program, with 64,800 visas issued. By May 9, there had been 26,600 arrivals in the UK.
Campaign group Vigils for Visas has taken legal action against the Home Office – filing for judicial review – over the “unreasonable” delays the refugees have faced.
Those who travel to the UK under the scheme can live with their sponsor for free for at least six months, work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare and schools.