Basildon woman fears for parents fleeing Ukraine: “They have quite ill health”

They’re trying to reach the UK with their foster daughter Pat, Len and Varlla

Credit: Maria Joy – Pat, Len and Varrla are currently waiting for Varrla’s Visa

This article was originally published on Greatest Hits Radio

An Essex woman has criticised the government’s handling of the refugee crisis, with her parents and foster sister stuck in Prague, after fleeing Ukraine.

Maria Joy, from Basildon, has told us how her parents, 75 year-old Len Joy, and 73 year-old Pat Joy have been told they’ll have to wait 10 working days for their Ukrainian foster daughter, Varlla, to get a Visa:

“We were hoping they’d get the Visa this Tuesday, but unfortunately they were told they’d need more information to prove they’ve actually fostered Varlla, and for the security checks the government have put in place.

“Now they have to wait for another five days which is really frustrating. They’re in limbo.”

Len and his wife, Pat, have lived in Ukraine, near the outskirts of Kyiv, for almost 20 years.

Having previously lived in Basildon, they moved out there to become foster carers after getting a “calling from God”, according to Maria.Family at a birthday partyCredit – Maria Joy – Len Pat and family

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they were forced to flee their home with their 18 year-old Ukrainian foster daughter, Varlla, who has learning difficulties.

Maria says it’s been very hard for her foster sister: “She kind of understands what’s going on, but on the other hand, she doesn’t.

“She thinks that England doesn’t want her, that she’ll be sent back or left behind – which obviously wouldn’t happen.

“There’s no way we’d leave her there, or that mum and dad would leave her, but it is really difficult.”

Maria’s family had a difficult journey to Prague, first having to cross the Hungarian border where the couple were forced to leave behind Varlla’s biological uncle, and another foster child, Simeon:

“They were told they could take the family across but then they had to go back and defend their country… it was a heart breaking moment.”Len, Pat and familyCredit – Maria Joy – Len, Pat and family

She’s very unimpressed with how the British government have handled the situation: “I’m scared for them and I’m frustrated.

“We were told by our government that they’d welcome refugees in but they haven’t made it easy with the application, whether it’s a family application or not.

“These are people fleeing for their lives, for their safety, their children’s safety.

“Our government has not made it easy.”Len and Pat

Credit – Maria Joy – Len and Pat Joy

Maria is increasingly concerned as her father has been forced to ration his heart medicine for fear of running out: “To know that he’s been rationing and, come Monday, will run out of his medication, that’s a huge worry…

“Mum and dad are in their seventies and they have quite ill health.

“Mum suffers with mobility issues and COPD, dad’s got heart conditions, Type 2 Diabetes and he was just getting over a knee operation.

“They’re not exactly spring chickens and the longer they’re waiting, the harder it’s getting on them.”

Maria hopes they’ll be able to make it to the UK next week, where they’ll stay with her in Basildon before looking for somewhere of their own, but for now, she just wants them safe:

“Right now my priority is to get them home, to get them the medication and health care they need, and then we’ll start next steps.”

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