Hartlepool man says Ukrainian family's 'lives are at risk every hour' they wait for UK visa

A man from Teesside has told ITV Tyne Tees he is "angry" that a Ukrainian family he is happy to host are risking their lives dodging Russian bombs as they wait for their UK visas to be processed.

Nick Anderson has up to three spare rooms at his Hartlepool home and has matched up with a family of three in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro more than a week ago.

Having filled in the visa applications and provided evidence of the family's passports, he is still waiting for them to be processed.

He said: "Their lives are at risk every hour, really, you know, I’m just so frustrated and possibly a little bit angry, because I can’t understand why we could not issue a visa to these people straight away.

"You know, their passports should be enough and Poland has let two million in. We’ve not let more than a few thousand in."

14-year-old Anastasia is the only member of the family who speaks English and she is communicating with Nick to ensure safe passage to the UK with her mum and younger cousin.

Her dad has already been wounded in the war, but is back out fighting on the frontline, alongside her auntie and uncle.

She told ITV News: "I’m very scared. My sister is very scared because she is small and I’m very sad, because I can’t go for a walk with my friends.

"I can’t go to school. I can’t see my father, because he is in danger... We want to be in the UK and go back to Ukraine when the war is finished."

Nick has daily video calls with the family to make sure they are safe, but he is frustrated that their lives are at risk as they wait to flee because of British red tape.

He added: "I’m in contact with them every night and every night the air raid sirens are going off and they’re just sheltering, unfortunately in a tower block that’s nine stories high. They don’t have time to get to the air raid shelters, so the best they can do is just sleep in the corridor of the apartment block, so it’s pretty heart rendering really... I’m aware that Dnipro was bombed last night and it’s just awful. I just want to get them out as quickly as possible."

The Home Secretary tweeted on Friday that 20,100 family visas have been issued. 

However, no numbers have yet been published for the non-family visas. The government said it has streamlined this application process to help them get here faster.

A government spokesperson said: “We are moving as quickly as possible to ensure that those fleeing horrific persecution in Ukraine can find safety in the UK, and our Homes for Ukraine scheme now allows those without family connections to come here.  

“The Home Office has acted to streamline the visa application process so valid passport holders no longer have to attend in-person appointments before arriving, allowing us to welcome people faster."