Carer relieved at securing autistic Ukrainian teen's visa

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Image source, Julie Elliot
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Mrs Elliot said Timothy had been living in "heartbreaking filthy conditions" in Poland

A woman who has been trying to bring a boy with severe autism from Ukraine to the UK for months has said finally securing his visa was "a great relief".

Julie Elliot applied to help 16-year-old Timothy through the government's Homes for Ukraine (HfU) scheme in March, but his age made him ineligible.

She was so determined to help him that she and her husband adopted him to try and cut through red tape.

She said she was thrilled he would now be joining her family in Lancashire.

The HfU scheme, which was set up shortly after the conflict broke out in Ukraine, requires strict sponsor checks before unaccompanied children can travel to the UK.

The 62-year-old, who is from the Ribble Valley and has four biological and 10 adopted children, was first put in touch with the teenager's mother Anna in Kyiv by the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline charity.

She said Timothy, who is non-verbal, had become distressed at his home in Kyiv when it was bombed as he "couldn't process what was going on".

He was later evacuated to Poland.

'A lot more hoops'

Mrs Elliot, who met Timothy in Poland, said he was living in "heartbreaking filthy conditions" and struggling to care for himself.

She said she was moved to apply to help him through the HfU scheme in March, but was told two week after applying that he was not eligible for a visa as he was under the age of 18 and travelling alone.

In a bid to try and speed things up, the couple returned to Poland in May and legally adopted Timothy.

She said there had then been "a lot more hoops to jump through", which included proving they were committed to caring for and financially supporting Timothy for three years.

Mrs Elliot said she and Timothy's birth mother Anna were "absolutely thrilled to bits" about his visa and it was "a great relief" to both women.

Timothy will now travel to the UK in the coming days.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said the initial HfU scheme was not open to those aged under 18 if they were unaccompanied and the processing of such applications, which required thorough checks of individual homes and local authority capacity, began in June.

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