Cambridge mother's 12-day hunger strike secures visa for Ukrainian best friend

Rend Platings
Credit: PA
Mother secures visa for Ukrainian best friend after 12 days on hunger strike Credit: PA

A mother-of-one has secured a visa for her best friend from Ukraine after spending 12 days on hunger strike.

Rend Platings, of Cambridge, will host her friend Kristina Korniiuk, 34, of Kyiv, who has now been granted a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

Ms Platings said the visa application was made within minutes of the scheme opening last month.

She started a hunger strike on 1 April after hearing nothing except an acknowledgement, stating that the "delay in issuing visas is adding to an already appalling humanitarian crisis".

The charity chief executive had planned to end her hunger strike on Tuesday after Ms Korniiuk's visa was granted, and vowed to continue to campaign in other ways as more people await visas.

But she later said she will continue her hunger strike for "at least a few more days to highlight the plight of people who are still waiting".

Ms Platings said it "feels amazing" that Ms Korniiuk can come to the UK. "It's long overdue but I feel really relieved that she now is able to come," she added.

Ms Platings, who has painted her home in the colours of the Ukraine flag in a show of support for friends in the country, said her eight-year-old daughter Samantha "screamed with joy" when she learned Ms Korniiuk's visa had been granted. "She cried with joy, she was so happy about it," she said.

Rend, right, and Michael Platings painted their house in support of Ukraine at the weekend

"I'm really relieved about it and Kristina, I spoke to her, she rang me straight after I got the news, she's delighted.

"She thinks it must be my hunger strike that brought it about more quickly as there are lots of people still waiting. It's a shame we had to go through all of this and there are people still waiting."

The 5ft 7ins tall (170cms) mother said she was "really sick" during her hunger strike and dropped from 10 stone 1lb (64kg) to 8 stone 7lbs (54kg).

Describing how she kept going, she said: "I was just thinking, she's there in a difficult situation, it's unbearable for her to be waiting for a long time so I can tolerate this until at least she gets her visa."

Ms Platings said she may go to Ukraine to help her friend travel to the UK as she said Ms Korniiuk is "quite broken".

Ms Korniiuk is currently in the city of Yaremche, in the west of Ukraine, having fled Kyiv, and has relatives in the Donbas who want to stay.

Ms Platings said she hopes Ms Korniiuk will be able to join her in Cambridge within a week to 10 days.

She added it was a "difficult decision" for Ms Korniiuk to leave as she does not know if she will see her family again.