In My View: Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood

The war in Ukraine has shocked residents across my constituency, with hundreds of people getting in touch to express their concerns about Vladimir Putin’s violent, unprovoked, unjustified invasion.

It was extremely moving to listen to President Zelenskyy address the House of Commons recently. His leadership, courage and resolve are extraordinary and humbling in the face of such aggression.

The war in Ukraine has already led to millions of civilians being displaced. We have seen shocking scenes of barbaric cruelty and devastation by Putin’s forces and people across Ukraine are fleeing to safety.

The UK Government was far too slow to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, initially issuing just a tiny number of visas while other European countries were welcoming hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

In addition, visas were only open to Ukrainians seeking to be reunited with family members in the UK, with no scheme for those who did not already have family members here.

The Government has bowed to the enormous pressure from the public that we must do more to help Ukrainians fleeing the war,
and last week announced a community sponsorship scheme.

But the details of how to apply, the requirements and the paperwork needed have changed every few days, and it still isn’t clear how people who need accommodation in the UK are supposed to be matched with families who are willing to host.

Community sponsorship is a valued and important route to sanctuary in the UK and I am proud that our local area has welcomed several families through community sponsorship in recent years.

The programme the Government has announced lacks the support offered through community sponsorship, and it is being left to communities and our local councils to organise the help and support traumatised Ukrainians will need.

While I’m sure our communities will provide a brilliant welcome, this isn’t good enough.

I am continuing to call for the Government to ensure a simple route for people fleeing the horror of war in Ukraine to come to the UK and all the support they need to come to terms with their trauma.

The Government must step up to meet the scale of the challenge.




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