‘Let them in with open arms’: Sandi Toksvig joins forces with Stephen Fry and Graham Norton in calling on UK government to ‘take faster action’ welcoming Ukraine refugees
Sandi Toksvig has united with 40 other British comedians calling on the UK government to ‘take faster action’ helping refugees feeling the war in Ukraine.
The UK has been criticised for only taking in about 1,000 so far, under Home Secretary Priti Patel’s orders.
The writer, 63, posted an emotionally charged video to her Twitter account on Friday urging authorities that they need to welcome Ukrainians ‘with open arms’.
Passionate: Sandi Toksvig has united with 40 other British comedians calling on the UK government to do more to help refugees feeling the war in Ukraine
Standing in solidarity with the the country’s president she said: ‘You won’t have missed the irony that at the heart of the most serious event in the world today is a comedian – Volodymyr Zelensky.
‘His courage, integrity and grace under fire in this horrific situation should make our own government feel ashamed.
‘So we British comedians say to them: ”Have you no decency?” Let Ukraine’s refugees into the UK now with open arms.’
United: Actor and comedian Stephen Fry appeared in the passionate video standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine
Help: Comedian Graham Norton also featured in the heartfelt video
The video then cuts to world renowned comedians such as Stephen Fry, Miranda Hart, Graham Norton and Katherine Tate who all echo Sandi’s sentiment with each of them repeating passionately ‘with open arms’ – asking the government to take faster, and more decisive action.
Unlike the European Union – which is allowing Ukrainians three-year residency without a visa – the UK has retained controls on entry, saying they are essential for security.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson defended the nations response to the crisis and said an upcoming scheme will allow Britons to take citizens from the war torn country into their homes.
Stand together: Comedian and writer Miranda Hart was also featured in the passionate plea to the government
The scheme will enable Britons to put people fleeing the war up in a spare room, or perhaps give them a job. However, it is expected that anyone offering to house a Ukrainian refugee will have to pass Disclosure and Barring Service checks, which will slow the process further.
Scores of Ukrainian families were turned away at Calais with just 760 people granted visas under the Home Office’ Family Support Scheme despite tens of thousands of applications.
Following mounting criticism, Priti Patel announced on Thursday major changes to the visa regime – but charities said they did not go far enough.
Solidarity: Comedian Katherine Tate passionately exclaimed in the video ‘with open arms’
Kind: Phones 4u tycoon John Caudwell on Friday vowed to offer his two-bedroom coach house to Ukrainian refugees rent and bill-free for six months
Phones 4u billionaire John Caudwell yesterday vowed to offer his two-bedroom coach house to Ukrainian refugees rent and bill-free for six months.
Mr Caudwell, 69, is offering to put up a displaced family on his Staffordshire estate, Broughton Hall, where he lives with his Lithuanian cyclist girlfriend Modesta Vzesniauskaite, 39.
Calling the UK Government’s response to Russia’s invasion ’embarrassing’, John Caudwell said: ‘I’d like to host a Ukrainian family to live in the grounds of my estate. As Eastern Europe struggles to address the worsening crisis, I urge wealthy individuals to step up and offer shelter in their homes.’
Movement: Sandi’s video racked up thousands of likes and comments within moments of being posted
He added: ‘They’ll have their own, two-bedroom apartment here, with all utilities and food as long as they need it.
‘I want to help and suspect the experience will be humbling and deeply enriching for me as well’.
The United Nations said more than 2.5 million people have now fled Ukraine. More than 1.5 million refugees crossed into Poland, but about 40% of them are thought to have subsequently left for other countries.
How does the visa process work and why do people have to provide biometric data?
The Government’s refugee scheme means British nationals with family in Ukraine are now allowed to bring their relatives to Britain while Ukrainians living in the UK can do the same.
People in Ukraine who are eligible to come to the UK must apply for a visa online.
This process requires people to provide a wealth of information about themselves and formal evidence to back up their application.
They must provide their full name, date of birth, their current passport and details of any criminal convictions.
They must also prove their link to the UK.
For example, someone who is looking to join their partner in Britain must prove that they are married or have been living together for at least two years.
They must provide evidence to show this is the case in the form of a marriage certificate, a tenancy agreement, utility bill or bank statement.
Once they have submitted their application with supporting documentation they are currently required to attend an in-person appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).
When they attend their appointment they are asked to give biometric data in the form of fingerprints.
This data is then used by the UK to conduct security checks which then informs the decision on whether someone is granted a visa.
The UK has faced criticism for sticking to this system because the situation on the ground in Ukraine makes it difficult for people to attend a VAC.
The easing of rules from Tuesday March 15 for Ukrainian passport holders will see the requirement to attend a VAC as part of the application process removed.
People granted permission to come to the UK will be required to attend a VAC to give biometric data after they arrive in Britain.