Shotley mum appalled at visa wait for Ukraine family she just wants to hug

Candles at a Ukraine vigil with inset pictures of Emma Adams and Valeria and Liudmyla

Emma Adams has applied to give shelter to a family fleeing Ukraine - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Emma Adams

Taking in a Ukrainian family felt like the least one Shotley mum could do to help - but the lengthy wait for visa approval has prompted her to call for a faster process. 

Emma Adams, who lives in Shotley Gate, is calling for the government to speed up the system and allow Ukrainian refugees to begin their journeys to the UK. 

Two women are hoping to get the go-ahead to travel to Emma's house, which she shares with her 13-year-old daughter Issy, but eight days after sending the application they're still no closer to knowing when approval will arrive. 

Emma, who works at Fleximize, said: "I was moved to tears by what I was seeing on the news and just knew I had to help.  

"I don't have a huge amount of money to donate but knew I could help in other ways; by offering our room.  

"If it was me and Issy fleeing for our lives I'd hope a family would take us in and offer us safety. 

"I found a group on Facebook and spent many hours talking to families and it was heart-breaking to hear so many horrific stories of what they had been through. 

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"We made a post of what we could offer and through lots of conversations we found our family."

Liudmyla and dog Mila, daughter Valeria

Mother and daughter Liudmyla and Valeria are fleeing Ukraine - Credit: Supplied by Emma Adams

Liudmyla and her daughter Valeria are fleeing Chernihiv in Ukraine with their dog Mila. 

Liudmyla has an education in economics and Valeria was studying architecture at university - and now both are facing a 1,600-mile trip through Europe to get to the UK. 

Emma has spoken to both women on FaceTime and said it's the wait for government approval that is holding them up now. 

"I'm appalled that our government are taking so long to process the applications of these innocent people who are living on school hall floors or subway trains - or worse.  

"The application process is excessively long and it's been eight days with no update beyond the initial email saying it's been received. 

"There is no way to see what timescales they are working to, either.  

"Families are sitting in limbo waiting to hear. They are frightened to move from where they are until they know for sure they will be accepted. 

"I can't imagine having to give up my entire life, to lose members of my family and my friends and travel cross-country with nothing but a backpack of the things I treasure most, not knowing how I can get out.  

"I feel numb with sadness for them. I can't even comprehend the emotions they are going through."

Emma Adams, who is taking in two Ukrainian refugees

Emma Adams wanted to do something to help when she saw the news coming out of Ukraine - Credit: Emma Adams

Emma has written to Ipswich MP Tom Hunt asking for support, and also started a fundraiser to be able to provide a few items to be able to get Liudmyla and Valeria set up with transport and comforts when they arrive in Ipswich. 

Initially asking for just £350 to be able to get bus passes and essentials, the total has nearly quadrupled in just three days, which Emma said has blown her away. 

She added: "People have been so generous and we have enough to help get them started when they are here, while we sort Valeria's uni placement and help her mother find work." 

And generosity hasn't just come in the form of money. 

A woman named Tina, who is also taking in a family from Ukraine, is planning to fly to Romania to travel with the group of refugees across Europe to make sure they get to the UK safely. 

Ipswich Buses has offered a free bus pass for the first month Valeria and Liudmyla are in Ipswich, and an offer of English language lessons has been received by Helen from All Saints Kesgrave. 

But until the mother and daughter know they'll be permitted to come to the UK, they remain in Ukraine. 

Emma said: "I've never wanted to hug two people so much in my entire life. Their experiences in the last three weeks are truly heart-breaking."