Local help at hand for would-be Ukrainian hosts

Tuesday 17th May 2022 6:00 am
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Kate Kennedy
Kate Kennedy (Tony Wheeler )

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HOST families in West Somerset, who have been given government approval to adopt refugees from the Ukraine war but are experiencing delays in receiving their guests, can kick-start their progress through the local Homes for Ukraine Group.

This was the advice this week from Kate Kennedy, an active member of the Taunton Homes for Ukraine (HFU) Group which has already enabled many refugees to re-settle in the area.

Watchet resident Mrs Kennedy and husband Graham were among the first to welcome a Ukrainian refugee into their home.

Now, with other HFU volunteers, they are highlighting the plight of would-be host families frustrated by Government delays which they claim are preventing progress between those needing to be resettled and potential West Somerset hosts.

“We know of host families who’ve been waiting six or seven weeks to hear from the Government department dealing with these applications.” Mrs Kennedy said.

“Our advice is for these applicants to contact the Taunton HFU group so we can use our experience and contacts to help get these people settled and safe.”

She said the delays in approving Home Office visas were “quite puzzling as some applications seem to take six weeks, while others were approved in one week”.

She added that the escalating Russian troop invasion in Ukraine was increasing the need for refugees to be re-settled in a safe and peaceful environment where they can start a new life.

“We particularly need homes in small towns and villages where Ukrainians can easily access shops and employment rather than finding themselves anywhere too remote.”

Mrs Kennedy said that host families who have had the go-ahead from the UK government to take a Ukrainian family were often left in the dark about how to match up with Ukrainian refugees seeking accommodation.

“The common way is through Facebook, but not everyone is able to do this. This is where the HFU can fill in the gaps.

“We have matched scores of Ukraine refugees with host families, so we are happy to help,” she added.

Mrs Kennedy can be contacted on 07964 059296.

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