'We should be embarrassed' - Host family hits out at government visa delay

Mark and Tamsin Little 

Mark and Tamsin Little - Credit: Mark and Tamsin Little 

A Ukrainian family due to live with a Mid Suffolk couple through the refugee settlement scheme has still not been granted visas, a month on from their application.

Tamsin and Mark Little, from Wickham Skeith, have spoken of their ongoing frustration at delays and that it has left their sponsored family feeling "despondent".

Mother and daughter, Xenia and Margo, made an application through the Ukrainian Consulate a month ago and have fled their home in Kyiv.

Tamsin said two other families in Wickham Skeith are also hosting, with their arrivals having applied up to two weeks after Xenia and Margo.

“As soon as we saw the conflict start I knew that we would want to do something,” Tamsin, 50, said.

“When someone said about hosting refugees my husband and I agreed we would offer our home.

“They [the UK Government] are trying to reassure us by saying it’s being processed in date order. The family that arrived last week applied two weeks after my lady did, it’s chaotic.

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“We have been trying to chase but you cannot talk about the individual person when you phone the national helpline.

“We are really frustrated because there is nothing we can do and nothing she can do.

“As a nation we should be quite embarrassed by this. We are a wealthy nation with people who want to help, but it’s being squandered. People are giving up hope in some respects.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on Tuesday afternoon said there was progress on the family’s application, but it appears that the only progress is 14-year-old Margo receiving a letter saying her visa application is “being prepared for consideration” while Xenia is still to hear.

The Government said it could give no indication of how long it would take for their visa applications to be processed.

Tasmin said: “[Xenia] got very despondent a few days ago – she said it feels like it is never going to happen.”

As well as the anxieties about their visas, the Ukrainian family also have the added concerns of Xenia’s husband and son staying to fight.

Margo has expressed her fears through her stark artwork.

One, entitled ‘What did you do with me?’ depicts a girl crying at the destruction surrounding her, while in another a Ukrainian soldier attempts to keep Ukraine safe and hold back the Russian aggression, represented as a grizzly bear and fire.

A spokeswoman from the Government said: “We continue to process visas for the Homes for Ukraine scheme as quickly as possible, but accept progress has not been quick enough.

“The Home Office has made changes to visa processing – the application form has been streamlined, Ukrainian passport holders can now apply online and do their biometrics checks once in the UK, and greater resource has gone into the system.

“A UK Visas and Immigration helpline can provide information on eligibility and applications, and in cases of concern can escalate to teams who can look at the full case history and establish any issues.”