Grant Shapps keen to create Welwyn Hatfield Homes for Ukraine support group

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps by the superyacht Phi owned by a Russian businessman in Canary Whar

Grant Shapps took in a family through the Homes for Ukraine scheme earlier this week. - Credit: PA

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has revealed he is looking to create a support group for refugees and constituents who are part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The transport secretary welcomed a family of three and their dog into his home earlier this week after joining the programme, and now wants to create a support network for others taking part.

“Now that the Ukrainian family who have come to live with us has arrived, I'm keen to create a local Welwyn Hatfield support network both for the Ukrainian families themselves and for local host families,” he said in a Facebook post.

“This could take various forms including providing assistance to each other with practical assistance like how to obtain the necessary Biometric Residence Permit, through to providing friendship support networks and assisting with issues like securing schooling for evacuee children. And much else besides.

“It may be that such a Welwyn Hatfield group already exists, in which case please feel free to post back and let me know. If it does not exist then I'm happy to help establish one as the local MP and a host family.

“Please let me know if this would be helpful and whether there is already such a group established? Plus, what you would like to see the group do for both Ukrainian evacuee families and host families?”

A number of constituents backed the idea, but also raised issues surrounding visas, with many refugees still to arrive in Britain.

Mr Shapps admitted that process has been a ‘challenge’, but that people coming into the country must be checked after previous Russian attacks on UK soil, including the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

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“On the visas, it certainly wasn't without challenge,” he said.

“In part this is because there is a genuine need to check who is coming into the country given what Putin has done on UK soil before, and in our case because not all members of the family had an international passport.

“I do know that hundreds of cases are now getting approved.

“On the specifics of individual applications - if you are a constituent and trying to get visas sorted then please email me details to grant@shapps.com and I will take that up with the Home Office on your behalf.”