Map reveals number of visas issued under Homes for Ukraine scheme, as Buckinghamshire comes top

Map reveals number of visas issued under Homes for Ukraine scheme, as Buckinghamshire comes top

New data published by the Home Office has revealed which areas of the country are welcoming in the most refugees under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

The figures put Buckinghamshire at the top, having granted 507 visas. Wiltshire and Cornwall come out second and third highest, having approved 402 and 337 visas respectively.

London boroughs of Wandsworth and Barnet are then fourth and fifth, having given out 311 and 307 visas under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

Other areas that have taken high numbers of refugees include Richmond upon Thames, South Cambridgeshire and South Oxfordshire.

The figures – published last week – are for lower tier local authorities in England, and show that 28,345 visas have been approved since the scheme was launched on March 14.

Across the UK, more than 71,800 Ukrainian refugees have been granted visas through varying schemes, but just 21,600 have arrived.

The Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme has faced criticism by families across the country hoping to welcome refugees into their lives.

Some application forms have been ‘lost’, while other families have had half of their applications approved, and children asked if they have ever been considered a threat to the UK’s national security.

Having issued 222 Homes for Ukraine visas, Chichester in West Sussex has the highest rate when its own population is taken into account, at 183 visas per 100,000 people, The Times reported.

In East Dean, a West Sussex village north of Chichester, a couple whose home is ‘used to being busy’ have welcomed a family of Ukrainian refugees.

Janet and John Holt now have three generations living in their three-bedroom house.

Svetlana Scomavska, 38, her six-year-old twins and her parents, arrived 10 days ago with help from Sanctuary in Chichester, a charity that is part of the wider City of Sanctuary movement.

Mrs Holt, who has six children and 10 grandchildren, told The Times that she loves having the Ukrainian family in her home.

‘My house is full again,’ she said. ‘There’s always someone cooking in the kitchen. We have delicious Ukrainian soup every lunchtime.’

Ms Scomavska and her family fled from industrial town Kamianske, near Dnipro, earlier this month.

Since arriving, her children have found their smiles again.

‘When we have this hard trip, it feel not good yourself,’ she told Sky News.

‘But now my children always happy, smiley and always play. Many smiles many scream, but John say its not bad, its good.’

Mrs Holt added: ‘This house is very used to being a busy, child-centred house, so we don’t mind a bit of screaming.’

‘I have daughters the same age [as Svetlana],’ Mrs Holt added. ‘I wonder how they’d cope. She’s been so tough.’

She told Sky News that welcoming the Scomavskas has been easier that other families experience, due to the help from others.

‘I think I cheated actually, because I haven’t filled in all the visa forms — that was done by Svetlana’s boyfriend Slav. Sanctuary did everything else.’

Mrs Holt explained how the Chichester charity’s business and volunteer coordinator, Katy De Lazslo, drove to Calais and ‘brought the family back in her car’.

‘I think we’ve actually got away lightly, because I gather it’s not an easy process,’ she added.

‘I hear this morning that some families are still not able to come because some of the visas have come through but not all — so the family can’t be separated and they’re still waiting for visas for children and for grandparents.

‘I think that just needs addressing really.’

The Holts are the first family in their village to take in Ukrainian refugees, but there are more families en route.

‘I really want to meet more of my people,’ Ms Scomavska told the paper. ‘We hear that another family is arriving next week.’

Gillian Keegan, Conservative MP for Chichester, said that West Sussex has a ‘generous and open’ community.

Her office has supported more than 130 people with their visa applications.

Earlier this month, British families frustrated by Home Office red tape revealed their fury at the ‘broken’ Homes for Ukraine application process that sees children asked if they are security threats and fathers fighting on the front line made to fill out consent forms.

Hosts from across the UK told MailOnline how their efforts to open their homes have been hit with snags as thousands of desperate refugees remain stuck in limbo.

The Government has come under fire for the slow processing of visa applications as Ukrainian evacuees, some as young as seven and travelling just with their siblings, are stuck in neighbouring countries with little money and no food or spare clothes.

Of further concern to hosts is the cumbersome 50-page application process, which asks schoolchildren to divulge if they have ever been considered a threat to the national security of the United Kingdom.

Some hosts claim their sponsorship forms were ‘lost’, while other horror stories reveal visa applications for the same family saw one half allowed to come to the UK, while the other half were left waiting for a reply for a week.

One host from Manchester told MailOnline how the pair of Ukrainian girls his family hope to sponsor were asked, as part of the visa application, to attach a letter of consent from their father — who was conscripted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the start of the war.

The scheme pays families £350-a-month to take in those fleeing Russian brutality for at least six months.

Within hours of launching on March 14, the website for registering interest had crashed and subsequently more than 200,000 people signed up to the programme.

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