Mother from Cambridge goes on hunger strike to protest UK government visa delays for Ukrainians

Kristina and Rend
Rend Platings is trying to sponsor her friend, Kristina Corniuk, 34, to come to the UK from Ukraine. Credit: ITV Anglia

A mother who is supporting Ukrainian refugees has gone on hunger strike to highlight what she says are significant delays in visa applications for people fleeing the war.

Rend Platings from Cambridge is protesting against the UK government's delay in issuing a visa to her best friend, Kristina Corniuk, who has reluctantly left her home in Kyiv.

Ms Corniuk, 34, applied at the earliest chance possible for her visa through the Home Office website, with Mrs Platings as her sponsor.

They said they have not heard anything other than an acknowledgement.

The Home Office said it was moving as quickly as possible to ensure that those fleeing Ukraine could find safety in the UK.

Ms Corniuk has since moved out of Kyiv and away from the worst of the conflict while she awaits her visa.

Mrs Platings, who has an eight-year-old daughter, said: "I am really afraid for Kristina, and for all the people who have been forced to flee their homes under such terrible circumstances."

She stopped eating food at 8am and plans to continue the hunger strike until "the government puts its actions where its rhetoric is and makes good on its promise to support the generosity that has so far been extended by the British public", she said.

She and her husband Michael painted their house the colours of the Ukraine flag earlier this month in a mark of solidarity, redecorating the outside of their home blue and yellow.

Rend feels that she has failed her best friend, while Kristina remains in limbo and potential danger. Credit:

Many others are facing similar experiences with frustration and fear.

Fiona Godlee, 60, also lives in Cambridge and signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme as soon as it opened.

She has offered to host and sponsor Olga, Abdul and their two young daughters, aged six and 18 months, who fled Kyiv at the start of the war.

"The rooms are ready for them," says Ms Godlee. "We have been given beds and bedding by neighbours.

"Everyone wants to help. But it feels like we are colluding in a deception.

"We may even be doing harm because these good people, through no fault of their own, are delaying other plans to find a place of safety somewhere else.

"While other countries in Europe are not requiring a visa, we feel like we are being lied to by the Home Office and in turn are lying to Olga and her family."