Translators hired as Norfolk Ukrainian refugee visas increase

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka cross

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka crossing. - Credit: AP

Ukrainian-speaking translators have been hired by two councils - as the number of refugees issued visas to stay with Norfolk families increased to more than 250.

Broadland and South Norfolk councils have employed three translators to ease the transition of refugees into new homes after fleeing their home country following the Russian invasion.

Alison Thomas, Conservative county councillor for Long Stratton.

South Norfolk councillor Alison Thomas - Credit: Archant

Alison Thomas, South Norfolk council cabinet member for better lives, said: "These people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their possessions.

"We want to do everything we possibly can to ensure that they feel safe, secure and welcomed into our district.

“It’s absolutely vital we have clear lines of communication set up from the outset, so we can help the refugees transition into this new way of life as smoothly as possible, immediately answer their questions and help with any problems.”

Around 150 refugees are heading to South Norfolk and Broadland - almost a third of the overall figure expected in Norfolk.

Some are coming under the Ukraine Family Scheme and others through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

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Latest figures, from Tuesday, April 12, showed 276 visas had been issued for Ukrainian refugees to stay in Norfolk through the latter scheme - where members of the public can volunteer to host refugees in their properties.

Earlier this month, the government confirmed they expected Norfolk to initially resettle some 489 Ukrainians via the scheme. 

Checks are being completed to ensure homes offered are safe, clean and appropriate.

Officers are also visiting refugees once they have settled in, along with a Ukrainian speaking translator, to ensure they are safe and well in their new homes.

Broadland cabinet member Fran Whymark said: “People in Broadland and South Norfolk have been quick to offer help and we are extremely proud of those who have shown an immense amount of compassion by coming forward to offer accommodation and give what they can during this humanitarian crisis.”

There has been criticism of the government over the speed of the process.

Former head of the British Army Lord Dannatt - who is sponsoring a mother and son to live in his home near Norwich - last week branded it too "blooming complicated".

Lord Dannatt.

Lord Dannatt has criticised the speed of the visa process for Ukrainian refugees - Credit: Denise Bradley