‘No humanity at all’: pleads for UK to grant visa to autistic Ukrainian boy | Immigration and asylum

A Briton who turned his Polish castle into a makeshift hotel for Ukrainian refugees has accused the UK government of showing no ‘humanity’ for not allowing a severely autistic teenager to come and live with a host family approved in Lancashire.

Calls are growing for compassion for 16-year-old Timothy Tymoshenko, who fled war in Ukraine without his parents. He lives with his 17-year-old brother, Yurii, in what was once a private palace of the Prince-Bishop of Wrocław in Piotrowice Nyskie, a small Polish village near the Czech border.

Jim Parton, a former stockbroker and writer from London, lives there with his Polish wife, Anna, and their six children, aged 7 to 17.

When the Russian invasion began in February, they decided to turn what is usually a guesthouse and wedding venue into an open house for Ukrainians seeking refuge abroad.

They are currently hosting 17 people in the sprawling 700-year-old palace, after four left for Canada on Monday. Among those left behind is Timothy, who is severely autistic, non-verbal and needs strong prescription drugs to control his changing moods.

Experienced childminders from Lancashire have visited the boys in Poland and are willing to host brothers, but are growing frustrated that the UK government has yet to grant them visas to enter the country.

Julie Elliot, 61, and her husband, Roger, 66, already have 14 children together – four biological and 10 adopted. Both worked as nurses before becoming full-time carers for their adoptive family and were appointed MBEs in 2016 for children’s services.

Their adopted children, aged 9 to 40, are all disabled and eight of them still live at the couple’s home in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.

They and Parton plead with the Home Office to let Timothy come to the UK with his brother. They are not eligible for the Homes for Ukraine program as unaccompanied children under the age of 18.

The issue is being challenged in the High Court and dozens of UK foster families are anxiously waiting to see if approval is granted for the children they hope to care for to be brought to the UK .

Parton grows increasingly frustrated with the visa situation. “It’s an absolute shame that it’s taken so long. There is no humanity on the part of the government in acknowledging that this is a special case,” he said.

“What makes me most upset is the reason for backing up visa delays for these children,” said Julie Elliot, who recently traveled to Poland to meet Timothy and Yurii and help look after Timothy for a week.

Upon arrival, she found him starving, unwashed and dehydrated. “Tim needs someone to look after him to make sure he eats and drinks regularly,” she said.

The boys’ mother, Anna, sent the two brothers across the border because Timothy was not coping with the interruption of his routine by having to rush to underground bomb shelters and was becoming very distressed by the sound of constant warning sirens.

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“Tim is in a very dangerous situation,” Elliot said. “We’ve been through 10 adoption assessments and they’re the scariest thing on God’s earth, but they don’t compare to this process of trying to get Tim a visa. There doesn’t seem to be any system in place I was told we should hear about the court case in 14 days but that is a long time when you are a child and no one is looking after you… All I ask for these children like Tim who are waiting to be placed, it’s just give them a visa, they won’t cause anyone any problems.

Anna is also frustrated with the delays in granting visas: “When the generous British people have extended a helping hand to my family, we cannot take it because the documents will not be issued. As a mother, I am very stressed and want to breathe a sigh of relief that my children are not being bombarded and are being looked after by responsible and kind people,” she said.

A government spokesperson said: “It is tragic that children have been caught up in Putin’s war. The safety and well-being of children is paramount and it is essential that we have strong protection processes in place. For this reason, only those under 18 who are reunited with a parent or legal guardian in the UK are currently eligible for Homes for Ukraine. We are keeping eligibility for all plans under review.

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