A woman in Wales who offered her home for a Ukrainian family in the sponsor scheme has been left disappointed after visa delays caused them to seek refuge in Norway instead.

Elizabeth Darbey, who lives in Flintshire, offered her home to refugees back in March and began to prepare her home for Elena Koptieva and her two young children in April.

The mother, who was seeking refuge in Poland, says she applied for the three visas altogether and had her own, and her eldest’s visa was granted in May.

The youngest, who is aged three, is still waiting for approval before they can make their way to the United Kingdom.

Ahead of her arrival, she sent her family's belongings over to Elizabeth's home in Connah's Quay, where they stayed as they continue to wait for the approval.

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As of this week, the family has moved to Oslo, Norway, after staying in Poland was no longer viable for them and they could no longer wait for the UK visa. Their visas for Norway were approved within hours of applying.

Elizabeth, who has stayed in touch with Elena throughout the process and has formed a bond with her, said that she is “very distressed” by the situation and the three are disappointed to not be in the UK.

The family’s belongings remain in Flintshire with Elizabeth who says she now has no way of getting to them.

Elena Koptieva and her two young children.The family's belongings in Elizabeth's hallway.

Elizabeth told our sister site, the Wrexham Leader: “I look at these parcels in my hallway, and think 'this is someone’s life', very sad."

She added: “I understand many Ukrainians are here, but I do believe a huge obstacle is in place to slow it down.

“We are playing with people’s lives, these children deserve some normality in their childhood.”

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Elizabeth was in touch with MP Mark Tami to see if anything could be done to get the child’s visa and went through the process of having her home checked by Flintshire council, a criminal records check, and preparing her home for the family to arrive, which has now come to nothing.

The UK government says that they are aware of this case and are working to progress the application. 

A spokesperson said: “Nearly 100,000 people have safely arrived in the UK through our Homes for Ukraine scheme.

“Applications are usually processed in the order they are received but cases vary in complexity and it is right we have safeguarding checks in place to ensure the safety of Ukrainians arriving in the UK.”

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