Britons barred from hosting refugees because their homes have plants, glass doors and stairs

Britons barred from hosting refugees because their homes have plants, glass doors and stairs 2
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Jobsworth council checklists are stopping British families hosting Ukrainian refugees – because their homes feature floorboards and glass doors.

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Other bewildering interior decor that have halted applications include stairs deemed ‘too steep’ and bannisters with gaps over 10cm wide.

Low windowsills and any poisonous plants have also caused houses to be rejected. 

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The problems appears to be because councils are using checklists from placing children in temporary homes.

Other unusual ‘issues’ flagged with some properties have been ‘too low’ plug sockets and gardens with ponds.

Even architect Mike Rundell was told his five bedroom, multi-million-pound art deco villa in south London, needed ‘upgrading’ so he could take in refugees. 

Sue Clifford, who has taken up a family of three and has set up a Facebook group for Homes for Ukraine hosts, said she had been upset by details of a woman told to board up her glass doors.

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Ms Clifford said: ‘These people are fleeing tanks and bombs.

‘We are going to keep them safe. We are not putting them at risk.’

The unusual things being singled out by councils seems to be caused by some using checklists designed for other placements. 

Some of the extraordinary household features councils say are unsafe for refugees to live with

Some of the extraordinary household features councils say are unsafe for refugees to live with

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Designer Mike Rundell has been told he will need to 'upgrade' his multi-million pound house in Herne Hill, south London, to make it fit for Ukrainian refugees

Designer Mike Rundell has been told he will need to ‘upgrade’ his multi-million pound house in Herne Hill, south London, to make it fit for Ukrainian refugees

Mr Rundell applied to host Masha Chykina, 42, and her three children – Sofia, 13, Ivan, 11, and Viacheslav, ten (pictured together) – when the scheme launched more than three weeks ago

Mr Rundell applied to host Masha Chykina, 42, and her three children – Sofia, 13, Ivan, 11, and Viacheslav, ten (pictured together) – when the scheme launched more than three weeks ago

Coventry said it was applying standards adapted from those used in foster placements.

A spokesman told the Telegraph: ‘So far we have come across two properties which are not suitable for the proposed guests; these may become so with some remedial work.

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‘One had a room that was full of tools and other stored items, one had unsafe floorboards.

‘The very vast majority of properties we have inspected so far are normal family homes with appropriate spare bedrooms for the size of guests due to arrive.’

One Ukrainian mother, Iryna Ovchar, yesterday told the Mail this week she had heard of other UK homes being rejected – as she sleeps in a concrete basement with five-year-old daughter Zlata.

The 31-year-old called for the process to be streamlined because ‘anything is better than a cold bunker’.

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Official guidelines for hosts set out how their homes must have ‘safe and working electrics’ and the owner must have a gas safety certificate

Meanwhile a British writer who has welcomed four Ukrainian refugees into her home has urged the Government to drop the visa process after it took her 11 hours to fill in the forms and nine days to bring the family to the UK.

Jane Finlay, 56, criticised the Government following difficulties she faced trying to bring over a family of four women from Ukraine to the UK on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Ms Finlay said once she applied for the scheme there was ‘no assistance’ from the Government in finding a family to house, so looked on Facebook where she connected with a woman called Nadia.

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Homes for Ukraine aims to match refugees with individuals, charities and other organisations who can provide accommodation for at least six months, enabling those without family ties in Britain to enter the country

Homes for Ukraine aims to match refugees with individuals, charities and other organisations who can provide accommodation for at least six months, enabling those without family ties in Britain to enter the country

One Ukrainian mother, Iryna Ovchar, (left) told the Mail she had heard of other UK homes being rejected – as she sleeps in a concrete basement with five-year-old daughter Zlata

One Ukrainian mother, Iryna Ovchar, (left) told the Mail she had heard of other UK homes being rejected – as she sleeps in a concrete basement with five-year-old daughter Zlata

The 31-year-old called for the process to be streamlined because ‘anything is better than a cold bunker’. Pictured: Zlata (right) and her friends wait in a freezing bunker in Ukraine

The 31-year-old called for the process to be streamlined because ‘anything is better than a cold bunker’. Pictured: Zlata (right) and her friends wait in a freezing bunker in Ukraine

Not even Glastonbury organisers can arrange their refugee family to arrive at Worthy Farm

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis says the Ukraine refugee system needs to be ‘fixed’ after they applied to host a family – who are still stuck in the war-torn country waiting for visas.

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Emily said that it has been 17 days since she found a Ukrainian family from Kyiv to stay on Worthy Farm – the festival site.

Having applied for their visas the same day for a woman named Veronika and her family they remain stuck in Kyiv.

In a statement posted via picture on Twitter, Emily said: “We need to fix the UK’s visa process for Ukrainians, as it’s simply not working.

“17 days ago we were introduced to Veronika and her family, and pledged to host them here at Worthy Farm.

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“Their visa applications were submitted on the same day through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, by they still have not been granted.

“Veronkka’s family remains stuck in Kyiv.

“We need our Government to take immediate action so that the many thousands of UK residents desperately trying to help people escape a warzone are actually able to do so.”

The Homes for Ukraine scheme was rolled out last month as a way for UK households to put themselves forward as a host for Ukraine refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

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However, many have complained of delays securing visas for those they wish to help.

A Government spokesman said of the scheme: “We are moving as quickly as possible to ensure that those fleeing Ukraine can find safety in the UK through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine.

“We have streamlined the process so valid passport holders do not have to attend in-person appointments before arriving in the UK, simplified our forms and boosted caseworker numbers while ensuring vital security checks are carried out.

“We continue to speed up visa processing across both schemes, with almost 30,000 visas issued in the last three weeks alone and thousands more expected to come through these uncapped routes.”

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Nadia, whose last name has not been given for safeguarding reasons, was looking to seek refuge in the UK along with her 16-year-old daughter, her sister-in-law and her 31-year-old niece after Russia launched a war with Ukraine on February 27.

Ms Finlay told the PA news agency: ‘It became very quickly apparent that the application process [of the family scheme] was the only support we were going to get from the Government.

‘It’s really cynical on their behalf because there’s really generous members of the UK public trying to do something and the Government has done absolutely nothing apart from set this website up where we register.

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‘I have a degree, three of the family members are graduates, and it still took us 11 hours to fill in the forms.

‘They had to provide information such as the father of the 16-year-old had to give written permission that she could leave the country, in English, but he’s fighting in Ukraine, so it’s a ridiculous thing to ask. Part of the questions seemed cut and pasted from another scheme as they were completely irrelevant, all the information we had to provide we had to give in PDF form, which adds another layer of complexity to people trying to stay online in a war zone.

‘I know, anecdotally, this system ended up causing arguments between sponsors and the families coming because it’s such a difficult process.’

Once the visas were approved, Ms Finlay left her home in Cornwall and flew to Berlin on March 21. There she travelled to the border in Medyka, Poland, with her friend Pete Jones to collect Nadia and her family.

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The group then went to a visa processing centre in Berlin to skip the queues in Poland, as one of the family members had an expired passport and the family was travelling with two chihuahuas which required paperwork, but when they arrived Ms Finlay said the workers had not heard of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

They went to Calais after receiving notice the visas had been approved but did not receive them until the next day.

Ms Finlay said she eventually travelled with the family from Calais to Folkestone on March 31 – nine days after meeting them at the border.

The family has now settled with her and her partner Michael Whitehill in Cornwall.

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‘I’m still hearing daily of women and children in basements not able to come over because the visas haven’t been processed. It’s absolutely heart breaking,’ she said.

‘We absolutely believe, it’s the only way forward, this Government should waive the visa. So many people here in Cornwall who have voted Conservative all their lives are now they’re saying they won’t be voting Tory anymore because the Government’s response has been shameful.’

Thousands of visa applicants fleeing the war are still waiting for a response from the Homes for Ukraine scheme which was launched three weeks ago. Pictured: Refugees from Ukraine are seen on the platform boarding the train to Warsaw, at the railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, on April 5

Thousands of visa applicants fleeing the war are still waiting for a response from the Homes for Ukraine scheme which was launched three weeks ago. Pictured: Refugees from Ukraine are seen on the platform boarding the train to Warsaw, at the railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, on April 5

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The Homes for Ukraine scheme was set up in record time but we acknowledge progress approving visas has not been good 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.

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‘We have partnered with the charity Reset Communities and Refugees to fund and provide a matching service for sponsors and refugees to ensure that matches made are suitable, safe and successful. 

‘This service will vet eligibility, assess needs, and provide training for sponsors to ensure they can support the people they host.’

Around 12,000 people had arrived in the UK under Ukraine visa schemes as of Tuesday, according to Home Office figures.

Some 10,800 people had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme and 1,200 under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, provisional data published on the department’s website shows.

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About 79,800 applications have been received for both schemes and 40,900 visas had been granted, as of Thursday.

There were 43,600 applications for the sponsorship scheme and 12,500 visas have been issued.

Out of 36,300 applications for family visas, 28,500 have been granted.

But the Refugee Council has accused the Government of ‘choosing control over compassion’ after figures were published showing that 12,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK under visa schemes.

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Chief executive Enver Solomon said Britons who are prepared to open up their homes have been left feeling ‘angry and frustrated that their gesture of support has been lost into a web of bureaucracy and chaos’.

He said the Government must waive visas as an immediate short-term measure and then introduce a ‘simplified emergency humanitarian visa process’.

He said: ‘These numbers confirm we have a Government, yet again, choosing control over compassion when it comes to granting refugees protection and one that appears to be totally out of step, not only with the British public, but the rest of Europe who have opened their doors to welcome Ukrainian families in desperate need.

‘It’s clear that the visa schemes which were supposedly designed to ensure the safety of Ukrainians fleeing war and bloodshed are unfit for purpose.’

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Home Secretary Priti Patel said she apologises ‘with frustration’ over the time it is taking for Ukrainian refugees to arrive in the UK under visa schemes.

However, she denied that visa requirements and checks are slowing the process and causing delays, in a pre recorded interview with the BBC which aired on Friday.

She told the broadcaster: ‘We are an independent third country and we want to give people the status and security of coming to our country along with the warm welcome.

‘Yes, we want to welcome people, we are welcoming people – over 40,000 visas being granted, over 10,000 people over a space of five weeks coming to the United Kingdom.

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‘We have to ensure that they are protected and safeguarded in the United Kingdom as well.’

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