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A British lawmaker has taken in a Ukrainian family of three as part of the UK’s initiative to sponsor and shelter those fleeing the Russian invasion.

Robert Jenrick, an MP representing Newark, told the Telegraph he picked up Maria, 40, and her two children, Boden, 15, and Cristina, 11, on Monday night.

The family had to wait seven hours at the Ukrainian border with Poland to be allowed to fly to England, among other ‘heartbreaking’ experiences, he said, and they now live with Jenrick and his family at their Nottinghamshire home.

Jenrick, who according to British media was the first lawmaker to welcome Ukrainian refugees under the Homes for Ukraine initiative – although others have expressed an interest in doing so – said it had been ” quite a humbling experience.”

“It’s a constant reminder of how lucky we are to live in this country, to have the privileges that we have, and I think for me, my wife and our children, it will make us a little less selfish and a bit more grateful for what we all have.

The former housing secretary said it took around three weeks to obtain a visa for Maria and her children under the initiative, which has been criticized for its bureaucracy and long delays, as well as for imposing on individuals to volunteer to sponsor refugees.

Jenrick acknowledged the program had “a bumpy start”, but said the process had already improved. Traveling through it as a godfather, he added, convinced him that “there are limits to the role of the state, and as a country we have so much to offer when individuals and society civilian get together”.

According to the latest government data, the UK has issued 25,100 visas under the Homes for Ukraine initiative. By Wednesday, only around 3,200 visa holders had arrived in the country.

A total of 56,500 visas have been granted under this program and another called the Ukraine Family Scheme, and 16,400 people have arrived in the country.


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