Family appeal for donations to help Visa searching Ukrainian family - The Redditch Standard
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15th Aug, 2022

Family appeal for donations to help Visa searching Ukrainian family

Ryan Smith 1st Aug, 2022

A HUSBAND and wife from Redditch are appealing for donations to help a Ukrainian woman and her granddaughter to get visas to enter the UK.

Alan Coombs and wife Anne joined the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme earlier this year and the local coordinator asked if they would host grandmother Marharyta Olkhovska and 17-year-old granddaughter Sofia Zhilina, who has a disability.

At the time Marharyta and Sofia were living in a border village near Poland and they started the process to obtain a Visa.

Anne Coombs said Marhayta received her Visa at the end of May and so assuming that Sofia’s would soon follow the pair began shipping their belongings over to Redditch.

However, Sofia was declared an ‘unaccompanied minor’ and the application for a visa had been put on hold.

Anne and Alan claim Marharyta is Sofia’s legal guardian.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme announced last month children and minors under the age of 18 who had already applied would be able to come to the UK without a parent or guardian, subject to extensive sponsor checks.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We have a responsibility to keep children safe and have put in place strong safeguarding measures to protect them once they arrive in the UK.

“The sponsor should, wherever possible, be personally known to the parents.

“However, local authorities will review cases and can choose to make exceptions where it is in the best interest of the child.”

Anne said the pair’s permitted time to stay in Poland was running out and so they travelled to Lille.

Anne added they attended the VAC on Tuesday for an interview and were ‘very hopeful’ Sofia’s Visa application would be processed soon.

And she said – while they were over in France – she and Alan had been sending them money for expenses such as accommodation and food and had set up a Justgiving page to help them afford it.

Alan added when the pair finally did arrive in the UK the remaining funds from the page would be donated to another Ukrainian cause.

•Visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/alan-coombs-5 to donate.

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