Driffield News

Homes for Ukraine fills Cranswick couple with ‘hope and frustration’

Hutton Cranswick couple Ian and Louise Sanderson have revealed their hopes and frustrations with the Homes for Ukraine scheme, referring to it as ‘pseudo-Churchillian empty rhetoric’, as they look to welcome a pair of teenage boys.

The Sandersons registered with Shelter4UA online and were contacted by friends Ivan, 17, and Vlad, 16, asking for their help.

Being recently retired schoolteachers and having experience dealing with teenage boys, Ian and Louise could not say no to Ivan and Vlad’s cry for help.

The government trumpeted its Homes for Ukraine scheme, but since Michael Gove first announced it, nothing has been mentioned since.

ian sanderson

Ian said that, despite the government proclaiming that it is helping refugees, he and Louise have received next to no help since signing up to the scheme.

He added that those thinking of registering with Homes for Ukraine should be prepared for a lot of work, to brush up on their IT skills and no help from authorities.

“Louise and I are both recently retired schoolteachers and, although we don’t have children of our own, we have experience of working with teenage boys having spent time at Hymers College, with Louise also at Beverley Grammar School,” Ian told the Wolds Weekly.

“The government trumpeted its Homes for Ukraine scheme, but since Michael Gove first announced it, nothing has been mentioned since.

“You receive no help in finding a refugee, we had to visit an established Ukrainian community online and make contact that way.

“One day, I received a WhatsApp message from Ivan and Vlad stating that their families were fighting for Ukraine and the atrocities that they had witnessed.

“Their families are fighting on the front line and working with counterintelligence and said that when they wake up each morning, they don’t know if their families will still be alive and asked for our help.

“There was no way that we could say no to that and we got on with the application to bring them over.

“We met them via Zoom to ensure they are genuine and helped them to fill in their application forms.

“This cannot be rushed, you have to take your time with it, as you cannot go back and edit mistakes, you have to restart it.

“You will need your passport number, date of issue and expiry date. After submission of the visa form there is a page with links to a document checklist and a site to upload documents.

“Don’t go to the document upload site until your guests have all the relevant documents ready.

“IT skills are really important, as you need to scan in photographs and create PDFs.

“We also had to arrange for Ivan’s mum to travel with him to Warsaw to make an appointment at the TLS office, the Home Office’s visa partner agency, as he only had a domestic passport, only to find that she wasn’t needed when she got there.

“These are self-service appointments, not assisted ones, whilst any under 18s you are sponsoring need permission from their parents to travel and stay with you, as well as a copy of their birth certificate.

“We have received no communication whatsoever since the application was submitted and are in complete limbo, with Ivan and Vlad waiting in Warsaw to find out if they can come over.

“I rang the Home Office helpline, was charged 69p a minute for the call, only for the woman on the other end to be of no help at all.

“She put me on hold to find out more information, but three minutes later the line went dead.

“The whole situation has filled us with hope and frustration and at times we have been on the brink of tears.”

Despite these hiccups, Ian encouraged others to support the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
However, he said that anyone who is frustrated by the system should be vocal about it.

“Louise and I have plenty of free time and a spare room in our home, so we can offer safe accommodation for refugees,” Ian added.

“I think that anyone who can offer help should.

“However, when you do get frustrated with the application, be vocal about it.

“I emailed ‘You and Yours’ at the BBC and this resulted in appearing on their phone-in programme and also on Radio Humberside.

“Contact your local MP and tell them how angry and upset you are.

“If enough of us do it, then perhaps the government will stop spouting its pseudo-Churchillian empty rhetoric and actually make something happen.”

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