Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Nick Ferrari Says: British people have stepped up over refugees but can the Govt?
18 March 2022, 17:02
The Great British public once again showed their spirit and their strength with the speed they opened their hearts and their homes to desperate Ukrainians.
We can consign to their rightful place in misplaced history the absurd notions that either ludicrous Brexit-related immigration claims by the left or the shameful Windrush scandal were how we want to treat people fleeing for their lives.
The question now is can the government step up and match the generosity of the public. That could prove to be the plan's biggest and potentially immovable hurdle.
In truth, they've already been bailed out by the nation's generosity.
Initially, the "Homes for Ukrainians" scheme resembled a bizarre version of Tinder for Brits eager to link up with refugees in Ukraine who were looking for friendship, support - and a roof over their head.
You could only proceed if you could name a specific Ukrainian or family and in return you will be paid £350 a month, but you have to agree to a minimum period of six months of providing accommodation.
It is unclear exactly what you are meant to do when the six months are over and you might want to get the room back.
And there are a series of problems that the government needs to address urgently.
Firstly, these poor individuals deserve nothing but sympathy and support, but so much of what they are sure to need will fall on the already overstretched NHS.
It breaks your heart. They have fled for their lives, said goodbye to their husbands or fathers and will be waiting, dreading the call informing them their loved one could have perished while fighting for their homeland.
The children will have been uprooted overnight and been unable to say farewell to family and friends. They will experience trauma and possibly flashbacks to the bombing and fear.
Mental health services in England alone received a record 4.3 million referrals last year as the pandemic drew to a close, and it’s fair to ask how on earth the government think everything these new arrivals should expect can be provided.
Then there's our schools. Too many children are already packed into classes with too many pupils in buildings in need of urgent attention.
Millions of children have missed out on terms of education due to the Coronavirus pandemic and a large percentage of them are struggling to catch up. Now add in the challenge of providing education for thousands of children for whom English isn't their first language, and the picture becomes bleaker.
Then there is the perennial problem of housing. For many years the actual number of homes built has fallen woefully below the government projections, with the figures for last year being an ambition of 300,000 new homes to be built, but a reality of 216,000, significantly below target.
Again, the arrival of thousands of homeless people from Ukraine is not going to ease this situation either.
That's just three key areas and while noting there are more, the response from the government is at best blasé, at worst verging on uncaring.
When successive ministers are pushed on this, they all state it "has to work".
But, the government must realise this isn't like wishing for Tinkerbell to get better in Peter Pan. These are real people caught in the worst crisis this continent has witnessed in many lifetimes. Words will neither provide doctors nor homes.
The Great British public have risen to the challenge but can the government match them?
That remains to be seen.