‘Too complicated’ - Norfolk man frustrated by Ukrainian refugee red tape

Ukrainian refugees queuing at Polish Red Cross border site

Ukrainian refugees queuing at Polish Red Cross border site where Adam Hale-Sutton (inset) has been helping provide transport on to safety. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

A Norfolk man helping Ukrainian refugees has said bringing them to the UK is being hampered by complicated red tape and a lack of on-the-ground help.

Adam Hale-Sutton, from Little Melton, is undertaking weekly journeys to Poland taking aid supplies and hopes to bring refugees back to the UK.

The government has launched a Homes for Ukraine website for people wanting to register as a sponsor to host a refugee.

But the process of matching up people wanting to come to the UK is still proving too much of a barrier.

“There are people here on the ground helping people but not from the UK. There is no coordination at all,” said Mr Hale-Sutton.

Adam Hale-Sutton

Adam Hale-Sutton is undertaking weekly trips from Norfolk to take aid and help transport Ukrainians to safety. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

“There are all these thousands of people who have registered as sponsors back in the UK, but as far as I’m aware there is no-one on the ground pointing them in the right direction.”

The scout leader, a father-of-two who has taken a sabbatical from work to help, said at the moment it was easier for people to travel to Ireland and other European countries. But he is still determined to bring refugees to the UK, including Norfolk. 

“One of the families we have picked up wants to come. We have a sponsor but it is not taking the 48 hours that was claimed,” he said. 

Red Cross site at Medyka

Red Cross site at Medyka on the Polish border where people fleeing war-torn Ukraine are seeking transport to safety. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

“There is a massive language barrier because you have to pair them up with sponsors and they have to do a video call with each other to see if they are going to be compatible.

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“They are also being asked for biometric scans and all sorts of things. So it is very, very complicated.”

Mr Hale-Sutton and his convoy, including the Hethersett scout minibus, have delivered aid to an orphanage and to a refugee camp in Medyka, near the border crossing with the war-torn Ukraine. A Just Giving page has been set up for people to donate.

Ukrainians that Adam Hale-Sutton helped transport boarding a train to Germany with the help of Irish aid workers.

Ukrainians that Adam Hale-Sutton helped transport boarding a train to Germany with the help of Irish aid workers. - Credit: Adam Hale-Sutton

They have managed to transport people - and their pets - to Krakow and then on to further destinations including two families to be reunited with relatives in Germany. 

And they had also teamed up with two women from an Irish homeless charity.  

He said: “They are a force to be reckoned with. They have been fantastic in helping us because we didn’t have any women with us which was a barrier in approaching people.”

• This newspaper has launched an appeal for the people of Ukraine. You can donate at justgiving.com/fundraising/edp-ukraine