Cornwall couple's race to help pregnant Ukrainian woman get to the UK before she gives birth

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

A family in St Austell are worried a heavily pregnant Ukrainian woman they are trying to sponsor will give birth before she has a chance to get to the UK.

Michelle and Ian Toogood-Johnson have matched with a family via The Sanctuary Foundation and are now in the process of sponsoring them to travel to Cornwall so they can live in their annex.

Michelle, who is a qualified postnatal maternity nurse, told ITV News: "I'm worried, will she actually make it to us before the baby comes?

"The stress of the travel, she's at high risk of blood clots. We don't know what medical care she's been able to access.

"She's 37.5 weeks pregnant. The risk to mum and baby at this point are great, and we have to wait until Friday to start the visa process and the vetting process," she said.

The Toogood-Johnson family feel in a race against time to get a pregnant Ukrainian woman to the UK

The whole family - including the couple's teenage children Alex and Hannah - wanted to welcome refugees into their home - especially anyone who was due to have a baby.

The have been matched with Tetiana, her husband Yurii and their two-year-old Yana but have only been able to communicate via translators helping refugees in Poland.

Michelle and Ian say they have been very careful to verify their identities and will be going through the official government channels for visa approval.

Ian said: "They are really vulnerable to exploitation wherever they are travelling - and we could be vulnerable because we don't know who is actually coming here."

Michelle said: "We're happy there are checks and safeguards in place. We have two children ourselves and for our and the refugees' safety, I think it is is paramount we go through the immigration and visa checks and don't rush the process."

Michelle and Ian prepare their annex for the Ukrainian family they hope to welcome. Credit: ITV News

More than 100,000 households in Britain have signed up to host a Ukrainian refugee after a government sponsor scheme was published on Monday.

While many people will not personally know a Ukrainian they wish to accept, those who do should contact them and tell them to prepare to fill out an online visa application form, which will go live on Friday 18 March.

That person must know their own details as well as the details of their prospective host.

Michelle and Ian have previously had enhanced DBS checks and had their home approved for being suitable for housing people in need but the pair say do not let any bureaucracy put people off hosting a family.

Ian said: "Don't be daunted by them because it is very easy, it's a quick form to fill in, and it is very easy to get these checks done."

  • A charity founder from Barnstaple says he will give his home to a Ukrainian family for "as long as they need"

A charity founder from Barnstaple is also hoping to give a home to a family from Ukraine.

Grenville Yeo got to know English teacher Lena and her husband Denys as part of his work with the "Sharing One Language" charity.

They fled Kyiv to Moldova with their six-year-old son as soon as the conflict began.

Lena and Denys and their young son celebrating Christmas in Kyiv three years ago. Credit: Grenville Yeo

Grenville says he will give his home to them for "as long as they need it".

"They showed me the two suitcases that they have everything in. They're staying with an uncle of Denys but it's not suitable", he said.

"I had already said 'don't worry you have got a safe space here where you know you will be safe'".

"As far as I'm concerned this can be their home for as long as they need it."

Denys and Lena visiting Clovelly in Devon in 2018. Credit: Grenville Yeo

Grenville added, "Barnstaple is a caring community and I think they will feel like home here, but still wanting eventually to go back to Kyiv".