Council chief praises 'amazing support' for Ukrainian refugee visa scheme

Ukrainian refugees Alikhan Yusupov, 10 and Miroslava Starkova, 11, and Cllr Anna Bailey

Cllr Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, has praised the support residents have given towards the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme so far. Pictured: Alikhan Yusupov, 10, (second left) and Miroslava Starkova, 11, (right) walk to Caldecote Primary School since they fled their home in Kharkiv, Ukraine and moved to Cambridgeshire. - Credit: PA

Over 50 visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees to stay with families in East Cambridgeshire, the third lowest in the county. 

The district ranks 131st out of 309 local authorities in England in the number of visas issued as part of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, as of April 12. 

In East Cambs, 52 visas, or 5.8 per 10,000 people, have been given to refugees fleeing Ukraine. 

Councillor Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, praised residents for their “amazing support for people living in Ukraine. 

“Dozens of families have put themselves forward as part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme; many more have contributed financially or donated goods or services,” she said. 

Ukrainian refugees Alikhan Yusupov, 10 and Miroslava Starkova, 11, in Cambridgeshire

Just over 50 visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees to stay with families in East Cambridgeshire under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme. Pictured: Alikhan Yusupov, 10, (second left) and Miroslava Starkova, 11, (right) walk to Caldecote Primary School since they fled their home in Kharkiv, Ukraine and moved to Cambridgeshire. - Credit: PA

“The council’s response has been to make sure that once visas have been granted, accommodation, welfare and DBS checks are completed as soon as possible. 

“This is to ensure people arriving in the UK from Ukraine have a smooth transition to their hosting household.” 

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Cllr Bailey added that the district council will work with other local authorities, community groups and central government on top of offering “one-to-one support for families”. 

South Cambridgeshire topped the local rankings, with 146 visas issued since the scheme began. 

Cambridge has issued 93 visas, ahead of Huntingdonshire with 57, Peterborough with 40 and Fenland, which ranked lowest with 25. 

Last week, Fenland welcomed its first Ukrainian family under the scheme, which allows residents to become a sponsor and share their homes with or provide accommodation to refugees. 

Cllr Chris Boden, leader of Fenland Council, said: “I am very pleased that the first Ukrainians taking refuge from the war in their homeland have arrived safely in Fenland. 

Cllr Chris Boden at May 2021 local elections

Cllr Chris Boden, leader of Fenland District Council, shared his delight after the first Ukrainian family under the Homes for Ukraine scheme had arrived in the district. - Credit: Archant

“A cross-council team has worked as swiftly as possible to ensure that we are ready to welcome our newest residents and that they are appropriately supported.” 

Figures from the Home Office show as of April 13, 94,700 Ukraine Scheme visa applications have been received, with 55,600 under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

Out of the 56,500 visas issued, over 25,000 of them are under the Ukraine sponsorship scheme while over half were part of the Ukraine Family Scheme.