A whistleblower working in the UK House for Ukraine The scheme has revealed he and his colleagues “don’t know what we’re doing”, and claims the scheme has been “designed to fail” to limit the number of people entering the UK.

Amid criticism over the number of Ukrainians allowed to come to the UK so far, insiders revealed that confusion, poor morale and lack of guidance mean staff contracted with the scheme often often resort to their reactions to circumstances.

Staff working on the helpline for the scheme – introduced after widespread anger over the UK government’s initial response to the Ukraine refugee crisis – revealed that they had only received three hours of training with no follow-up and indicated any complaints or suggestions to improve the system were met with silence.

“We don’t really know what we’re doing,” said the source, who works for a private company responsible for handling Ukrainian refugee cases. “The system is designed, it will appear, for people to fail. They want to keep the number the same. Everything they do feels as if it’s meant to be. I even had a lawyer and attorney on the phone saying they couldn’t understand the system. “

The whistleblower questioned official government data on Ukrainian refugees, arguing that the statistics showed that ministers were being more generous than they really were.

The source, who asked not to be named, said he had handled many cases of UK visas being granted to an entire Ukrainian family except one child, which prevented the family from traveling to the UK.

“This allows the government to say we have issued a lot of visas. However, because they declined one, it was a guarantee that the Ukrainians would not travel,” the source said.

The whistleblower said he encounters four or five cases a day in which a child in a family is not allowed to travel, a pattern he believes is “too much of a coincidence” for it to be ignored. encourage.

A government source said that family applications are “usually handled together” but that the cases vary in complexity and the protective procedures that have been put in place to protect children from trafficking.

The latest government figures show that 40,000 UK visas have been issued under the Home for Ukraine Program since it was launched five weeks ago – but only 6,600 Ukrainians actually arrived.

A donor who offered a place to stay in her home for mother and daughter from Borodyanka – a small town north of Kyiv that was devastated during the Russian invasion – told The Observer the child still has not received their visa after a month.

Katerina Lisenkova, also a volunteer helping Ukrainians come to the UK, said they applied for the couple’s visas on March 21 and although the mother received one “quickly” , the daughter did not and the two were stranded in Poland. .

Hours later The Observer brought the case to the government last Friday, the daughter was allowed to travel to the UK. On Saturday, British donors said they were in the “terrible” end of their lives after a Ukrainian mother who was going to stay at their home received a visa but her children, including a daughter of four age, have to wait.

A protester holds a 'UK visa exemption' sign in Trafalgar Square
A protester in Trafalgar Square this month. The government has been criticized for the number of Ukrainians it has allowed into the UK so far. Photo: Vuk Valcic / Shutterstock

Lisenkova said she is aware of 700 applications under the Home for Ukraine Program that have yet to receive a response, many of which date back to when the program was launched.

The whistleblower was employed by a Paris-based multinational called Teleperformance, which also owns consular services company TLScontact. It was later criticized for advertising paid services to Ukrainians applying for visas.

The source, who has been working on the program’s hotline for a month, said: “So far, I’ve received two phone calls from tearful Ukrainian women who say their experience made them feel that they would not be welcomed by the UK government. and therefore they don’t want to come here anymore. It’s hard when you hear that. ”

He claims that calls from potential donors and applicants for the Home for Ukraine program are rarely recorded.

“I’ve made one call since I’ve been here out of hundreds, maybe thousands, where it says ‘recorded’ before the person called,” the source said. “I used to work on Vivid 119 lineswhere everything was recorded.

“The Covid line is much more structured: there is a very fixed set of rules, with a lot of information for us. On the Ukrainian side, we have no information at all.”

However, he said that Teleperformance is not entirely to blame for problems related to the Ukrainian program, as the company is essentially working within UK government specifications.

“Teleperformance is the customer. It is just accomplishing whatever it is asked of them. “

However, he said any complaints against the company’s management appear to be ignored: “We have received no response and if there is an attempt to correct or make it better, we are sure of it. will not be notified of that. Communication is non-existent. ”

The result of the mentality among employees is disappointment, the source said.

“The colleagues I spoke to felt the same way. We all feel pretty exasperated,” he added.

The program’s helpline is intended to guide applicants through the funding process and help them enter the data needed to achieve a successful outcome. However, the government has the final say over who is granted a visa and is allowed to enter the UK.

When combined with the Ukraine Family Scheme, a total of 71,800 visas were issued, with 21,600 Ukrainians coming to the UK, a government spokesman said.

They added: “We’re processing thousands of visas a day – it shows that the changes we’ve made to streamline the service are working, and we’ll continue to build on our success. This can speed up the process even more.”

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