Manchester families complain the Homes for Ukraine scheme is a “frustrating shambles”


Manchester families who are sponsoring Ukrainian refugees are complaining the Homes for Ukraine scheme is a “frustrating shambles” that is leaving them and the desperate people they are helping in limbo.

As part of the government scheme if a UK citizen wants to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, they can become a ‘sponsor’ and can offer accommodation for at least six months. Non-British citizens can also make this offer if they have leave to stay in the UK for at least six months.

But families across Manchester are taking to social media to complain about being left waiting for visas to be processed in order for the families they are trying to help to be able to arrive.

Helen Lyndon, 49, a secondary school teacher and her husband Glyn, 54, a civil servant both live in Stockport with their three sons Jacob, 18, Caleb, 17 and Frankie, 8 and decided they wanted to become sponsors.

Helen says she and her husband watched the trauma of the Russian invasion on Ukraine unfolding on the news: “We were both so upset by what we saw in Ukraine, we just looked at each other and said: “We have to help,” she says.

“We have the space,” Helen says, “We wanted to make sure the children were also willing, so we discussed it with them and came to the decision as a family.” But Helen says after making contact with a Ukrainian family, made up of a child, his mother and his auntie they have been left in limbo, waiting for them to be able to arrive.



Helen Lyndon, 49, a secondary school teacher and her husband Glyn, 54, with their three sons Jacob, 18, Caleb, 17 and Frankie, 8

“It is so frustrating. There are huge delays,” she says. “We have done advanced checks, taken documents to the Town Hall and had a home inspection from Stockport Housing to make sure we have enough space. But what is frustrating is that other people are getting seen quicker. There doesn’t seem to be any chronological order or system or logic to what is happening.”

Helen says she is part of a group on social media and many other families are posting up their frustrations at being left waiting.

Single mum Luicija Elsahli, 32, who lives in Cheetham Hill with her ten-year-old daughter is coordinator of a Facebook group for Stockport and Manchester and is sponsoring a 27-year-old young woman called Sofiia.

The marketing account manager says it took 21 days for the visa to arrive today (April, 13) and describes the process as a “shambles” with no apparent order in place. “It’s a mess,” she says. “Poland just opened the borders and allowed people in.” She has also criticized meticulous inspections being carried out that include checking whether her plug sockets are working, “It’s stupid,” she says, “This is a crisis.”



Ukraine refugee sponsor Luicija Elsahli,

Denise Lill, 52, a former nurse and seamstress, who is a sponsor for a family of seven says she feels the same way. Denise lives in Carrington in a two-bedroom cottage with her husband Ella Stuart Lill, 53, an ex-soldier and two of their combined ten children, but says they have a huge garden and will be putting caravans in the space.

She says: “I am a sponsor for a Ukrainian family of seven – a widow and six children. The youngest are both five-year-old identical twins and the oldest is 18, who are currently in Paris. I have painstakingly filled in all the visas. I can’t upload documents because the drop down menu only gives the option of Poland as a location for the family, but they are in Paris. They can’t complete their biometrics because my passport is out of date.



Denise Lill is sponsoring a family from Ukraine to come to live with them but is finding the visa process very frustrating.

They have no money, I have no money. The hotel they are in says their time is up and they have to leave. I tried to book to get an urgent passport and they can’t do it for 10 weeks. What do we do? At least in Ukraine they had a bunker to stay in, the UK offered them safety and they are finding themselves living in hotels in a country where they know no one and don’t speak the language.

“We have a nine seater people carrier my husband can drive to Paris and bring them all home they have had enough and I don’t blame them. The UK is barbaric treating women and children this way in this humanitarian crisis. Can’t there be some concessions, can’t they be brought here and go and sign at police station? It’s a good thing the British people have hearts and will open their homes but it feels like an empty gesture from the government.”



Denise Lill is sponsoring a family from Ukraine to come to live with them but is finding the visa process very frustrating.

A government spokesperson 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.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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