Ukraine: Ribble Valley couple's verdict on Home Office ruling which prevents them giving a home to autistic Ukrainian teenager

A Ribble Valley couple say a belated Government ruling which is preventing them giving an autistic Ukrainian teenager a new home is “beyond cruel”.

By Fiona Finch (LP) and Alistair Mason and Lily Ford (PA)
Monday, 9th May 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 4:30 pm

The couple, who were made MBEs in 2016 for services to children, are questioning why they cannot welcome one 16 year old boy who is severely autistic, to join their family in Lancashire.

Julie Elliot, 62, hoped to provide a home for 16 year old refugee Timothy Tymoshenko, who is severely autistic and non-verbal. But Government rules mean she and her husband have not been able to provide that much needed new home for him. Now Julie is considering going to Ukraine to care for Timothy.

Former nurses Julie and her husband Roger, 66, are full time carers with 10 adopted children and four of their own. Their adopted children all have disabilities and eight still live at the couple’s home.

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Julie Elliot and her husband Roger

Guidance that under-18s are not eligible for the Homes For Ukraine scheme unless they are applying alongside a parent or legal guardian. did not appear on the gov.uk website until the middle of April, some weeks after the scheme went live on March 18 and after the Elliots made their offer.

Julie has been made Timothy’s legal guardian by his mother, Anna, and is now considering travelling to Ukraine to care for Timothy as she had been given no update on his visa application, which was made on March 30.

She said of the Government policy: “Why offer with one hand and take it away with the other? It’s beyond cruel. It would have been kinder not to offer and then all of these people could have found refuge in other places.”

She said: “One of two things is going to happen to Tim, either Anna’s going to crack and he’s going to have to go to one of these institutions, which there aren’t any left now because of the war. Or he is going to be dead under a pile of stones and I can’t let that happen to him, I can’t.”

Mala Savjani said that citing safeguarding concerns was ‘bit of a contradiction’ (Mala Savjani)

Mala Savjani, an immigration solicitor for the charity Here For Good, claims the Government does not know what to do with fleeing Ukrainian minors. She told the PA news agency: “We’ve been seeing applications from unaccompanied minors being paused and not decided, especially ones that were submitted in the second half of March and we would have absolutely expected decisions on those applications by now. It seems as though the Home Office is purposefully not making those decisions because they haven’t actually decided how to deal with those applications.”

Mala said: “You’ve got unaccompanied children who are alone, stuck in different cities and towns across Europe, who are not with their parents, and in some cases have been separated from their friends. They have very limited funds available to them. But they’ve been offered a safe home to live in, in the UK, which has been checked by the local authorities, and the sponsor has had a DBS check completed. It’s a bit of a contradiction to say it’s a safeguarding issue, isn’t it?”

A Government spokesperson said: “Due to safeguarding concerns, unaccompanied minors are only eligible under the Homes for Ukraine scheme if they are reuniting with a parent or legal guardian in the UK.”

Here For Good was set up to provide a free immigration advice to vulnerable EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit. It has been helping with applications from Ukrainian citizens since the invasion began.