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Advisers step up to help Ukrainian refugees

Advisers step up to help Ukrainian refugees
A girl holds her sibling in a temporary shelter for Ukrainian refugees in a school in Przemyśl, near the Ukrainian-Polish border [Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Advisers and financial services professionals have gone over and above to help Ukrainian refugees crossing the border, providing them with shelter, essential supplies and lifts from Lviv to inland Poland.

Filip Slipaczek, a chartered financial planner, has offered his house in Poland to families fleeing the war-torn country, while Phil Billingham and his wife Shannon Currie, managing directors of Perceptive Planning, have driven a van full of supplies to Przemyśl, a transit point in southern Poland next to the border.

Cameron Penny, a director at financial services PR firm Montieth & Company, has dropped off supplies in Hrebenne - a refugee camp on the border between Poland and Ukraine. He then drove to Lviv, where he helped two families escape a city in dire need of food, tents and temporary homes.

According to Slipazeck, he now has 22 Ukrainians living in his home (pictured, below) in the Tatra Mountains next to a village called Szczawa, an hour's drive from Poland’s second-largest city, Krakov.

Slipaczek's 35-bed home in the Tatra Mountains

Slipaczek was born in the UK, but is a Polish citizen and has family from Ukraine. The 63-year-old said: “I’m so proud to be a Pole because my country has taken in over 1mn refugees without asking for any documentation."

After weeks of criticism, yesterday (March 14) the UK government announced its new visa scheme, in tandem with its Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme which allows people in the UK to host Ukrainian refugees for at least six months. Households will be paid £350 a month, tax free, per residential address.

As of yesterday, Home Office figures showed some 4,000 visas had been granted through this new route. Less than a week prior, the UK had issued just 500 visas to Ukrainian nationals seeking sanctuary, while neighbours on the continent had taken in tens of thousands of refugees.

Home Office secretary Priti Patel has defended her “embarrassing” and “slow” response to the crisis - words used by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Keir Starmer - by citing the need for national security checks on those crossing the UK border.

 Home Office spokesperson said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and the changes we’ve made to the visa process will make it quicker and simpler for Ukrainians with valid passports to come here, as well as ensuring those already here can stay.

“We have expanded capacity at our Visa Application Centres to 13,000 appointments a week, deployed additional staff across the EU and increased the number of people working on our 24/7 helpline in place to ensure those who need appointments can get them to come here. 

“This week our sponsorship route will open to allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to come here and we will continue to work closely with our Ukrainian partners to deliver the measures we have put in place.”