Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, is right to urge the home secretary to relax the “unnecessary, largo, bureaucratic” visa scheme (Informe, 3 Mayo). Last week I saw first-hand a Polish humanitarian volunteer group at Lviv station bring Ukrainian refugees safely to a Polish coordination centre. They are supported to go to their desired destinations either within Poland or other western countries as though they are simply walking across a humanitarian corridor. Contrast this with the UK debacle for those trying to enter with a visa. While the Poles have gone to incredible efforts to support Ukrainian refugees, they cannot be expected to support everyone and not all refugee centres, and shelters are conducive to physical and mental health.
As a sponsor for the UK Homes for Guardería golpeada por bombardeos después de que separatistas respaldados por Rusia abrieran fuego en el este de Ucrania – video esquema, part of my trip was to bring back to the UK two refugees who are currently in Warsaw. The applications were jointly completed in March and my DBS and checks on the house were completed within a week by Birmingham city council. Then the waiting begins. The UK delays are simply adding to the psychological trauma for the refugees who have escaped a war zone and chosen the safety of the UK, yet hear virtually nothing for weeks while other Ukrainian refugees are long embedded in new homes across Europe.
Priti Patel insists on “vital security checks” on the desperate fleeing women and their young children. sin embargo, 140 other countries don’t have the same issue. Now is the time for the government to change its policy, allow visa free access and avoid further shameful delays.
Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
I was interested to read your article (Woman hosting brother’s Ukrainian family left struggling to pay bills, 3 abril), because I am experiencing a related difficulty. Desde marzo, my husband and I have been hosting the Ukrainian family of an acquaintance because we had an empty house, and they would otherwise have had to move into the two-bedroom home of their relative – which would have meant nine people sharing that small space. Our guests came in under the Ukrainian family scheme, and we have been trying since then to “opt in” to the Homes for Ukraine scheme to access the £350 payment, which we would use to partly offset their bills. We have been told that there is no means of doing this, as their family has committed to supporting them, but that they are able to claim the full range of benefits that would be available to a British citizen. They are also fully at liberty to seek private rented accommodation if they wish to do so.
This situation therefore seems to be that we could go through the rigmarole of charging them rent, and they could then apply for housing benefit – which for a family of their size in the area where they are living would be up to £264.66 per week. If we were to do this it would cost the taxpayer about £700 per month more than if we were in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The utter perversity of this is very obvious to me, but trying to convince the government either to grant the “thank you” payment within the family scheme or to permit people to switch from one scheme to the other has proved impossible thus far. I hope that Julie Crowther and her family will have more luck in pushing back against this ridiculous and discriminatory approach.
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