Nearly 370 Ukrainian refugees arrive in Suffolk but some left in limbo

Nearly 370 people have arrived in Suffolk under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, but some families are still in limbo.

Nearly 370 people have arrived in Suffolk under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, but some families are still in limbo. - Credit: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL/SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nearly 370 people have arrived in Suffolk under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, new data has revealed.

Towns and villages around the county rallied around people as they arrive, and communities are offering families clothes and toys.

But delays in visa processing are still leaving some Ukrainian families in a state of limbo.

As of May 10, 772 visas have been issued under the scheme for Suffolk – with 235 of these in east Suffolk.

Bobby Bennett, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for equality and communities, said: “Suffolk has a proud history of welcoming refugees and we are united in our support for the people of Ukraine.

Councillor Bobby Bennett

Councillor Bobby Bennett - Credit: Suffolk County Council

“We are continuing to work closely with the District and Borough Councils across Suffolk, Community Action Suffolk, Anglia Care Trust and other voluntary and community groups to carry out checks and help Ukrainian refugees settle safely and smoothly here in Suffolk.

“We are regularly in touch with sponsors to provide the latest information and guidance as the situation develops and continue to support refugee guests to access vital services such as healthcare and education, to enable them to adjust to living independently here in Suffolk. Children are settling into schools and quickly making new friends."

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Cllr Bennett said Suffolk Refugee Support and other groups were helping refugees learn English and offering support settling into their local communities.

Kim Balshaw, who has co-ordinated finding homes in the UK for nearly 100 Ukrainians, said the scheme had improved as time goes on but there are still "a whole load of loose ends".

Kim Balshaw, right, has been working with 'Ukraine 2 Felixstowe' to match Ukrainian refugees with sp

Kim Balshaw, right, has been working with 'Ukraine 2 Felixstowe' to match Ukrainian refugees with sponsors, but says the visa application process is hampering their progress. Nicky and Steve Bain are hosting Andrii, who arrived with his relatives last week. L-R Nicky Bain, Andrii Khomyshenko, Kateryna Rudnytska and Anhelina Postupalen, Steve Bain and Kim Balshaw. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Balshaw, a retired RAF wing commander who specialised in crisis planning, said: "I sense that they speeded up the process, but I think there are still some people being left behind.

"People who are already having problems don't appear to be having them resolved."

Mr Balshaw, who lives in Felixstowe, said the application for one family of five was "proving a complete nightmare".

He said: "The visa applications were put in on April 4 and they're still waiting.

"All of them had passports apart from the eight-month-old. The dad is a diabetic and ended up in hospital – losing two toes in the process. And they were talking about amputating his lower leg."