A kind-hearted Lanarkshire couple are set to take in two Ukrainian refugees – and their guinea pigs – as soon as their visas are approved.
Kate Laverty-Fuller, her husband Martin Fuller, and dog, Jura, are opening up their home to a woman and her daughter fleeing the war-torn country.
The couple, who live in Hamilton, are waiting on the paperwork for the visas and their sponsorship to be finalized.
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And once that is complete, the refugees will make the trip to Scotland with their two guinea pigs, Melon and Julian.
Speaking to Lanarkshire Live, Kate said: “We have a spare room in our house, it’s not huge and we originally were only looking for one person, but then we met a lady in her 30s and she wanted to bring her niece over with her .
“We told her we could make it work.
“We’ve taken the time to get to know the two girls as well, we’ve spoken to them and the 15-year old’s dream is to see a Highland cow. So we’re planning some trips around Scotland for them as well.
“The people of Hamilton have all been so generous and people are messaging me offering to help.
“We’ve been blown away by the response and are thinking of setting up an Amazon Wishlist as well, we weren’t expecting it.
Kate said the process wasn’t easy due to the complexity and lack of information provided by the Scottish Government.
She continued: “The Government, I feel, has made the process quite difficult.
“The visa has gone through, so it can take up to two weeks to hear back, but if there are any mistakes then we have to do it from scratch again. I feel like they are making it harder than it needs to be.
“I think there’s a lack of an official channel to help people who are interested in helping, and I think the Scottish Government could make it a lot easier if they wanted to. I think the process is easier in Scotland than it is in England.
“But I think there does need to be more information made available.
Kate, who works for AXA Health has also said that her work has been great at supporting her, as well as donating money towards the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
“Right now all we can do is wait, as everything is a bit up in the air at the moment, it’s difficult to make plans to get to the UK because they have the guinea pigs and COVID restrictions, but they hope is they’ll get the train out of Ukraine and we can work it out from there.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman told us: “Scotland stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, but those applying need to be given visas.
“We’re doing all we can to assist those who’ve so generously offered to open their homes for Ukrainians fleeing the invasion of their country.
“However, Homes for Ukraine is a UK Government scheme and we have been pressing UK Ministers on the need to speed up the processing of applications and the granting of visas for those fleeing Ukraine as well as calling on them to provide more data so we can link up people in Scotland with those arriving from Ukraine.
“We are working at pace to ensure Scotland can offer safety and sanctuary, including through our new guidance for local authorities on our super sponsor scheme, our enhanced disclosure checks for sponsors, and our legislation ensuring people who’ve offered their homes under Homes for Ukraine will not lose any council tax discount they would have been entitled to.
“We stand ready to welcome people to Scotland once applications become obtained visas.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.