Man helping Ukrainian refugees to Norfolk calls visa delays 'abhorrent'

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader,

Dave Powles, left, Eastern Daily Press editor, and Adam Hale-Sutton, First Hethersett Scouts leader, packed and ready to leave for Poland to help Ukrainian refugees - Credit: Archant 2022

A scout leader who took a minibus to Ukraine’s border to help refugees to safety has called delays in issuing visas “absolutely abhorrent”.

Adam Hale-Sutton, of Little Melton near Norwich, travelled to the border the week the war in Ukraine started to deliver aid.

The 43-year-old father has taken a sabbatical from his job at restoration firm Belfor to volunteer.

Mr Hale-Sutton is currently at a holiday house in Dunkirk, France, where he has driven in a minibus with six Ukrainian refugees, three mothers with their sons, who all have sponsors in England.

Viktoriya Lomakovska, Bohdan Bobor and Larysa Bobor celebrating outside the Ukrainian embassy in Brussels

Viktoriya Lomakovska, left, Bohdan Bobor and Larysa Bobor celebrating outside the Ukrainian embassy in Brussels after getting Bohdan's passport renewed - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

They are awaiting visas before they can travel to the UK under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme. The group has been in Dunkirk since April 10. Visa applications for the six were made on April 6.

Mr Hale-Sutton described delays in getting UK visas as “abhorrent”.

“There’s no other word to describe it, absolutely abhorrent,” he said.

“It’s been made in a way that it appears the British don’t want Ukrainian people to come into the country.

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“Everyone’s devastated."

Aid in Poland

2.2 tonnes of aid had been delivered to an orphanage and to a refugee camp in Medyka. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

The six refugees with Mr Hale-Sutton are Larysa Bobor, 54, and her 16-year-old son Bohdan from Cherniviv, Viktoriya Lomakovska, 34, and her 10-year-old son Mykyta from Kyiv, and Olha Miroshnyk, 37, and her three-year-old son Yan Dmytrykov from Mariinka.

The six all travelled to the Polish border on foot, arriving when Mr Hale-Sutton and Eastern Daily Press editor Dave Powles were offering support on the Polish-Ukrainian border two weeks ago. 

“They walked, stopping in people’s houses that have been shelled, having to go and find another house that’s got a toilet in,” he said.

“It’s that bad."

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine.

Adam Hale-Sutton with donations for Ukraine. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

He continued: “The reason I’m out here is I’m a dad, I’ve got two boys, I’m a very emotional and passionate person.

“I was pacing the house, my wife just said ‘I can see what you want to do Adam, go’, so I did.”

He raised funds through GoFundMe and has also put in some of his own money to help refugees to safety.

“It’s all been done with people with big hearts that care,” he said.

“I’m prepared to stay out here for as long as I’m needed.”