Mary in the Media - Speaking on "shambles" of refugee scheme
Mary in the Media - Speaking on "shambles" of refugee scheme

You may have seen recently that Mary’s time in the media has been primarily dedicated to the Homes for Ukraine scheme, announced by the Government almost a month ago. The scheme sees people pair up with Ukrainian refugees they would like to sponsor and take in to their homes.

The scheme has been slow in allowing refugees to seek sanctuary in this country, prompting pleas from constituents in the City of Durham for the Government to show some empathy and issue visas to refugees so they can come and stay with host families that are so desperate to help.

One such case in the City of Durham has been documented by the BBC

Paul Aitchison and his partner Helene Kell spent two weeks helping refugees with paperwork needed for the government’s home sponsorship scheme.

A farmhouse in New Brancepeth, County Durham, is ready for them to live in.

Paul said of the bureaucratic process

Over the last two weeks, from first meeting the family we were going to bring back, there was a glimmer of hope and you saw it in their faces, they thought they were safe now – and as these couple of weeks has gone on that has slowly diminished.

Mary has called on the Government to do more to help refugees fleeing war in Ukraine, branding the scheme in its current state a “shambles”.

This family has gone above and beyond to help, to help a family in need, and yet there are barriers in the way the whole time.

The speed of the Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities in reacting to the crisis in Ukraine has been something that has been criticised for several weeks, with Mary raising concerns directly with the Prime Minister at the start of March.

Asking a PMQ, which was covered in the Northern Echo, Mary asked if the Prime Minister agreed that quicker routes to safety were needed

However, [the Prime Minister] did not commit to renewing the Government’s proposals to offer a faster route to sanctuary for Ukrainians, instead stating he was “proud” of the record of the Government.

In the following week, Mary pressed the Government further in a comment to the Northern Echo saying

Last week, I raised my concerns directly with the Prime Minister in Parliament that existing routes for refugees to come to the UK were too complex and were not an emergency response- it was clear new humanitarian or sponsorship routes were needed… There has been an outpouring of support, goodwill, and offers to house Ukrainians across Durham. I only wish the Government would take the swift action needed to match my constituents’ generosity and openness, and urgently offer sanctuary to those in desperate need.


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