'It's a mess' - City man preparing to house refugees hits out at scheme

Mark Pauley of Branford Road Norwich in the room he has readied for Ukrainian refugees

Mark Pauley of Branford Road Norwich in the room he has readied for Ukrainian refugees - Credit: Denise Bradley

Frustration continues to grow over the pace of processing visa applications so Ukrainian refugees can come to safety in Norwich.

Retired project manager Mark Pauley, 61, of Branford Road, is offering space in his home to three generations of a family fleeing Ukraine. 

Feeling that the process is lacking urgency required to evacuate civilians from a war-torn country, Mark has highlighted the "awful mess" of the process and is urging more to be done to ease passage for his guests - Marina Misiura, 34, her six-year-old son Zakhar Stoiakin and mother Liydmula Misiura, 53.

Ukrainians Marina Misiura, Zakhar Stoiakin and Liydmula Misiura will be staying with Mark Pauley in Norwich

Ukrainians Marina Misiura, 34, six-year-old Zakhar Stoiakin and Liydmula Misiura, 53, will be staying with Mark Pauley in his Norwich home when they arrive in the UK - Credit: Marina Misiura

A visa application was put in on March 28, 23 days ago, and he has heard of no movement since.

"We're still waiting," he said. "I was told by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that the application is 'nearly there' but that was on the 14th and I've still heard nothing back."

Although Marina and Zakhar have a Ukraine Family Scheme visa they cannot make safe passage until Liydmula is officially on the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

Mark has already undergone a house inspection from Norwich City Council ahead of their arrival and is still awaiting a DBS check from Norfolk County Council - although he has been reassured that this will not hold up the visa approval process.

Mark Pauley at his home where he is offering a room for Ukrainian refugees.

Mark Pauley at his home where he is offering a room for Ukrainian refugees - Credit: Denise Bradley

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In the meantime the desperate family has fled their home in Ukraine and are now outside Lviv which is currently being shelled by the Russians.

He added: "I feel stressed but I have to put that into context. I'm in my country, my city, my home, and the Russians aren't invading - so I can only imagine what those three are going through.

"These guys are under immense trauma, pressure and stress.

Kyiv natives Marina Misiura, 34, and six-year-old Zakhar Stoiakin on holiday in Egypt in 2021

Kyiv natives Marina Misiura, 34, and six-year-old Zakhar Stoiakin on holiday in Egypt in 2021 - Credit: Marina Misiura

"I've tried the so-called Ukraine Family Scheme hotline which is clearly not set up to help. It seems a bit of a sham to be chasing the progress of visa applications through the system.

"And all this time my guests have been displaced while waiting for the approvals."

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North said: "I applaud the generosity of constituents who are able to open their homes to refugees.

"I was able to support some progress which I hope will come through rapidly for these people in their hour of need."