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Lead Councillor for Housing Says She is Unaware of Any Ukrainian Refugees in Guildford

Published on: 19 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 19 Apr, 2022

Ukrainian refugees. Photo Wikimedia

By Martin Giles

The lead councillor for housing at Guildford Borough Council is unaware of any Ukrainian refugees that have come to Guildford borough eight weeks after the invasion of Ukraine commenced.

But Cllr Julia Mcshane denies any rumours that “council checks delay the visa and arrival process” and that GBC is “working with the county, other district councils and public services on the welfare support required for arrivals”.

As of April 8, just 12,000 had reached Britain and Home Secretary Priti Patel apologised for the time it has taken for Ukrainian refugees to arrive in the UK under the two visa schemes that are operating, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK; the great majority of arrivals in the UK so far have been under this scheme.

Cllr Julia McShane

Cllr McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough) explained: “The council has no direct involvement in administering the scheme.  Most of our and the government’s current work focuses on supporting Ukrainian arrivals and their sponsors via Phase One of the Homes for Ukraine scheme where individual sponsors register their willingness and then establish links with Ukrainians.

“A later phase is for organisations to be sponsors and Guildford has been registered as a potential organisational sponsor.”

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Guildford, Waverley and Surrey Councils are designing a detailed end-to-end process to administer the checks required by the government, and to prioritise the safety and welfare of arrivals, sponsors and their families.

Cllr Mcshane continued: “This has been complex, particularly as we want the process to be as straightforward for participants as possible. It will require the Disclosure and Barring Service to prioritise their part of the process, and we are assured that they will do so.”

Councils get information from the government on visa applicants that are already matched with sponsors, and the visa process does not depend on the local council checks.

Cllr McShane added: “Rumours have circulated that council checks delay the visa and arrival process but DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities) confirmed with council chief executives that this is not the case. Once the visa is approved, the Ukrainians and their sponsors make arrangements for arrival; the council checks may then take place as soon as possible, and may be before or after arrival. We do not get information on Ukrainians or sponsors who are not matched.

“As well as the urgent focus on the processing of arrivals under Homes for Ukraine, we are working with the county, other district councils and public services on the welfare support required for arrivals, whatever their route. Surrey CC is leading on the welfare aspects and CCG colleagues are in the discussion too.

“I’m not personally aware of any Ukrainians that have arrived in the borough but have recently had an email from a resident who is waiting to hear when the Ukrainians they are sponsoring will have their visas approved. They told me they have done their DBS, have had a home visit from the council and felt very supported which is good to know.”

Do you know of any Ukrainian refugees in Guildford borough? Have you registered to take Ukrainian refugees? If so, and you wish to share your story, please contact The Guildford Dragon at: Privacy will, of course, be respected.

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Responses to Lead Councillor for Housing Says She is Unaware of Any Ukrainian Refugees in Guildford

  1. John Perkins Reply

    April 20, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    A typical bureaucratic response from the government to a human issue.

    Other countries allow people in and worry about the consequences later, but our Home Office (the envy of the world?) insists that genuine refugees prove their status before coming here.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 21, 2022 at 11:00 am

      For most Ukrainians, we are a second choice country, far away. Most of them want to stay near to their home country so they can retain a sense of being able to return. It’s an understandable psychological thing. I don’t see anyone complaining about Brazil or Argentina being slow to take refugees.

      Why is it always people running down our country while failing to give a balanced view of the global situation?

      • Peter Mills Reply

        April 22, 2022 at 1:11 pm

        According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford: “In 2020, the top five most common countries of nationality of people seeking asylum in the UK were Iran, Iraq, Albania, Eritrea, and Sudan.”

        Not exactly nearby. Or is that unique to Ukrainians?

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