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First Ukrainian Refugees Arrive in Guildford

Published on: 22 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 24 Apr, 2022

Ukrainian refugees Photo Wikimedia

By Martin Giles

Around 30 Ukrainian refugees have now arrived in Guildford and more are expected soon.

One mother and daughter has been taken in by a family in St Catherine’s and others are expected in Onslow Village.

The host in St Catherine’s who did not wish to be named said: “I think there is a handful already arrived and a lot more in the pipeline: the locals are mobilising fast to network and support each other.”

“My husband put the visa applications in on 19 March and we heard on April 2 that they had come through.

“What we didn’t realise, while we were waiting, was that the GBC inspection and DBS [Diclosure and Barring Service, a criminal record check] procedure is done separately and subsequently. We feared that the visas would not be granted until GBC had confirmed to the Home Office that they were satisfied.

“I guess it is not really surprising that there was a lack of clarity. I think GBC were in the dark for quite a while and the officers seem to have responded pretty efficiently. We have
found them helpful and keen to be supportive.

She added: “One of the younger ones said to me that when her friends said last New Year’s Eve they’d like to travel abroad they didn’t expect it to happen like this! And of course, sadly, they are all women and some young children.

“We are aware and very appreciative of a huge amount of goodwill and support from neighbours and friends, many of whom helped in all sorts of practical ways to get ready in a
very short time. That is definitely helping us in taking this fairly daunting step.

“Another friend who’s about to receive a young mum and small child said the same – there have been lots of donations of important kit such as a high chair and a pushchair.”

Cllr Julia McShane

Julia McShane, lead councillor for Communities and Housing at Guildford Borough Council, said: “People across Guildford are opening their homes and inviting those who have fled the conflict in Ukraine.

“We are supporting the Homes for Ukraine scheme; doing security checks and making sure accommodation is suitable for our guests.

“We are also working with Surrey County Council to make sure that the experience of sponsors and Ukrainian guests are the best they can be. We are issuing the welcome payment to guests and will also be managing the monthly thank you payment to the hosts.

“Around 130 sponsors have been matched with more than 300 Ukrainian guests and the number will rise. The guests have started to arrive, with around 30 to date. It has been busy for our teams who have pulled together to support guests and hosts. We are grateful to play a part.

“There are more Ukrainian guests arriving in other ways, for example with the Ukraine Family Scheme. This scheme is operated separately by the government. More information about the schemes available and how people can support is available on our website.”

Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson said: “I don’t think many of us can imagine what it’s like to have to flee our homes in fear of our lives. Or how it must feel to have to leave family behind and shoulder the uncertainties of a new life, at least for the moment, elsewhere.

“The news that the first Ukrainian guests have reached Guildford will be welcome to everyone – particular thanks to those sponsoring or hosting people from Ukraine to give them a chance to rebuild their lives.

“My casework during the past six weeks has been dominated by visas and those trying to offer the same refuge to others caught up in Putin’s terrible war. I will continue to work with my team to get these processed as quickly as possible so that everyone who wants to move to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme can do so.”

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Responses to First Ukrainian Refugees Arrive in Guildford

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    April 22, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    I am pleased to see that Ms Richardson is helping as much as possible. I would also like to know her position on the Rwandan proposal.

    Given the annual reports from Amnesty International show a lot to be very concerned about in that country, eg torture in custody, disappearances and the fact that we have granted political asylum to 75 Rwandans in the last few years, I’m with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 23, 2022 at 9:11 am

    Is there a local contact who looks after all the refugees? I’d like to get in touch.

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