Ukrainian girl, 17, stranded alone and without family after Home Office withdrew visa application

  • Rhian Chilcott says she'll do anything it takes to help Valya get to the UK and safety

A teacher from Solihull is pleading with the government to help rescue a 17-year-old Ukranian girl stranded alone in the country without her family or friends.

Rhian Chilcott, who works at a school in Solihull, signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

She has been in contact with Valya Pylypenko - who left her home city of Kherson under the assumption that she would be granted a visa to come and live with Ms Chilcott.

Before her escape, Valya had been told by the Home Office that due to her age, she would have to have parental consent before coming to the UK on her own.

Her parents couldn't travel with her because of her younger brother who is severely disabled.

But just days later, her visa application was denied on safeguarding terms.

It's left her stranded 300 miles from home, in a city now under threat from Russian occupation.

Valya saying goodbye to her brother Credit: Valya Pylypenko

Ms Chilcott tells ITV News Central: "Putting ourselves in their shoes. You know if this was us, what would we want people to do and it just felt very much like it was our duty and our call to help.

"The stress levels that she's enduring, she should not be having to endure. She has been really brave, but it is clear that she is almost at breaking point."

Rhian and Valya have the support of Lord Dubs, who himself was a child refugee and is now lobbying the Government to fix what he calls is a broken Homes for Ukraine scheme.

He said: "I'm deeply shocked that the government has changed the policy, I'm deeply shocked that the government put safeguarding theory ahead of safeguarding practice.

"I'm shocked that they're now saying they're going to leave the girl in danger. Nothing could be more dangerous than a girl in the path of a Russian invasion, a 17 year old girl and yet we're not moving to get her to this country."

Valya Pylypenko Credit: Valya Pylypenko

A government spokesperson said: “Unaccompanied minors are only eligible under the Homes for Ukraine scheme if they are reuniting with a parent or legal guardian in the UK – this is outlined in the immigration rules.

"We have recently announced a £45m package of support to protect the most vulnerable people in Ukraine and the region and support to organisations on the ground helping children fleeing the conflict.”

If Valya gets to the UK, she's been granted a two-year bursary to study at the Independent Solihull School.