Suffolk hosts say it is still taking too long to get Ukrainian families to UK

Fogel family

Fogel family - Credit: Tatiana Fogel

Would-be hosts from Suffolk claim it is still taking too long for refugees to get to the county under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

In the week to April 19, 171 visas were issued under the scheme in Suffolk. But many Ukrainian families are still waiting for government confirmation they can come to the UK. 

Amanda Pitt, from near Stowmarket, is waiting to host a mother and her three children from Odesa.

She said: “There is so much hope, but it gets completely dashed every single day.

"Everybody wants to help, but it has been made impossible. We applied for visas for our Ukrainian family right at the beginning, when the whole process started, and we are still waiting.” 

Amanda Pitt with her husband

Amanda Pitt with her husband - Credit: Amanda Pitt

Tatiana Fogel and her children – Mariia, Zakhar and Nazar – applied for their visas at the end of March. However, they have not yet got permission to stay in the UK with their sponsors.  

Tatiana Fogel with her youngest son

Tatiana Fogel with her youngest son - Credit: Tatiana Fogel

Ms Pitt said: “Tatiana said last night they were bombed. They had to sleep in a corridor of their flat.

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"I feel hopeless, helpless and guilty. I don’t know what to say to them anymore.” 

Ms Pitt also found a place in the village for Tatiana’s sister and her son. Other neighbours will host Tatiana’s best friend and her two sons. They have also been waiting for the visas for over a month.  

Tatiana's children

Tatiana's children - Credit: Tatiana Fogel

Liza Helps, from Stowmarket, offered her home to another Ukrainian family. Paul, his wife Veronica and their son Paul Jr. had been waiting for their visas since March.  

The family got their documents on Sunday, April 24, but the case "got complicated".

The father cannot leave Ukraine, as was previously planned. And now Veronica does not want to leave her husband in Ukraine, where fighting is still going on.  

Ms Helps said: “It makes me angry that these delays put Paul and his family in jeopardy. Veronica is in a very vulnerable position, and I don’t blame her that she doesn’t want to leave without her husband. I would be terrified too.” 

Amanda's daughters

Amanda's daughters - Credit: Amanda Pitt

Families also complain about the long and laborious process of becoming a sponsor under the scheme.  

The application requires documents for all family members, including, among others, passports, driving licences, birth and marriage certificates and bank statements.  

Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil to support Ukraine on Ipswich Cornhill.

Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil to support Ukraine on Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Archant