A Kettering woman who opened up her home to a family from war-torn Ukraine says she’s thrilled after their visas were finally approved after weeks of delays.
Beccy Hurrell and her family sponsored a mum and her two children, who we are not naming, who fled from 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 Home Office. This morning (Tuesday), the same day this newspaper published a story about Beccy’s frustrations, their visas were finally given the green light.
It’s now hoped the Ukrainian family will be in Kettering later this week.
Beccy said: “I am absolutely thrilled and relieved that the permits to travel have finally come through.
"We can now get them over here safely, and help them to restart their lives and allow them to grieve for their country and all they have been through."
The Ukrainian mum and her children, a six-year-old girl and a boy who turned one last week, fled from eastern Ukraine and crossed the border into Poland, which has taken in more than three million refugees, on March 3.
Having travelled to Warsaw for biometric collection, they’re currently in Gdansk and have held video-calls with mum-of-three Beccy.
They were left ‘worried sick’ by the delays and feared going 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 she was ‘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 the refugees at her family home, where her eldest son has moved out of his room to share with his brother to make space.
A Government spokesman previously said they couldn’t comment on individual cases.
They said: “In response to Putin’s barbaric invasion we launched one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history...the changes the Home Office has made to streamline the visa system, including simplifying the forms and boosting staff numbers, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as they come in – enabling thousands more Ukrainians to come through our uncapped routes.”
As of May 11 there had been 87,200 visa applications under the UK’s Ukraine sponsorship scheme, with 64,800 visas issued. As of May 9 there had been 26,600 arrivals in the UK.
Campaign group Vigils for Visas brought legal action against the Home Office – filing a judicial review – because of ‘unreasonable’ delays refugees have faced.
Those who travel to the UK under the scheme can live with their sponsor rent-free for at least six months, work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare and schools.