Yianis Group owner John Christodoulou
And the philanthropist is hoping the decision to help the UK Government will inspire others to accommodate those fleeing Russian bombs
Visas have been issued for 210 Ukrainians to travel to Scotland under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
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About 32,200 applications have been made to the UK government scheme, which is open to refugees with a named sponsor.The Yianis Christodoulou Foundation has previously raised over £1 million to help good causes in the UK and the founder’s home country of Cyprus.
Scottish formula one racing legend David Coulthard famously supported the Foundation with auctionable experiences, including karting lessons and dinner for two with him in Monaco.
The Foundation has also backed HRH Prince of Wales at a charity event at Dumfries House, in Ayrshire.
Currently based in Monaco, Mr Christodoulou fled the Turkish invasion of Cyprus to the UK in 1974 along with his family and is now opening the doors to two of his Yianis Group hotels to give more than 750 people a safe home for a year, at no cost.
Yianis Group has a portfolio of residential, hotel, retail and leisure properties in the UK and Europe. Its two hotels to home Ukrainian refugees are the Radisson Blu Hotel in Liverpool and Palace Park Inn in Southend on Sea.
But Mr Christodoulou hopes it will encourage families and businesses everywhere in the UK – including Scotland – to get involved and do their bit.
There are still people fleeing Ukraine today, leaving many seeking refuge.
With Phase One of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, individuals are encouraged to volunteer suitable accommodation if they have it available.
Anyone who resides in a part of the UK, regardless of nationality or immigration status, provided they have at least six months leave to remain, may act as a sponsor if they have a spare room, or other unoccupied accommodation that is fit for people to live.
He said: “‘We are pleased to be able to open our hotel rooms to help those seeking refuge from the crisis in Ukraine. When an event of such scale causes devastation, it’s important for individuals, communities, businesses, and charities alike to come together and support one another.
“The UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme plays an important role in helping welcome people into our society and ensuring they integrate seamlessly and effectively.
“We encourage those who have the means, and safe accommodation spaces, to help offer a place for people to stay and streamline their integration process, whilst also processing difficult current circumstances, amongst a host of other issues fueled by conflict. As a child, I know what pain my parents went through.”
Refugee families are torn apart every day by having to flee war zones and avoid the brutality of conflict.
In Ukraine, more than three million people have been forced from their homes in a mere matter of weeks, including around 1.5 million children, elderly people, women carrying babies, and families who have had their homes destroyed by turmoil.
Along with the UK, countries including Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Moldova, and Romania have begun making provisions to help provide people fleeing their homes with a safe place to stay and integrate into society.
In response to the humanitarian crisis, the UK Government relaxed family visa regulations for Ukrainian refugees, meaning Ukrainians in the UK can now be joined by their extended family, including siblings, adult children, cousins, and grandparents.
In order to try and meet these new housing needs that have arisen, the Government devised the Homes for Ukraine scheme, whereby the British public can offer to sponsor a spare room or home to Ukrainian refugees for a 6-month duration.
The scheme will enable individuals, and soon, community groups, businesses, and charities to volunteer accommodation and provide a safe immigration route for those forced to flee their homeland.
Phase One of the scheme, which opened on 18 March, currently only allows named individuals to offer accommodation, however, the Government intends on opening it up to businesses and other organizations to sponsor people at a later stage.
If a person is a Ukrainian national (or immediate family of someone who is) and was a resident in Ukraine before January 1, 2022, they are eligible, and based on the number of Brits available to help, the UK plans on welcoming as many arrivals as possible.
People arriving under this scheme will be able to access benefits, healthcare, employment support, education, and English language tuition. This will also allow people to live and work in the UK for up to three years, helping ease into the lifestyle and employment part of the process.