Desperate race to get Cirencester man’s Ukrainian fiancee to wedding

A MAN from Cirencester is desperate to be reunited with his fiancée and her family, who are trapped in Poland having fled war in Ukraine.

Steven Barnes said he is frustrated by ongoing visa delays which have left his wife to be, her children and her mother in limbo in Krakow.

Steven and Olga Nimak applied for visas for her and her children months before the conflict started.

Olga’s came through at the end of last year, but the visas for her three children – aged five, eight and ten – were denied.

These finally came through last week, but the family are still waiting for Olga’s mum to be allowed to travel.

Steven said: “We’ve now applied for her mum’s visa through the Homes For Ukraine scheme, which an awful lot of UK people have applied for, and we’ve just had no response at all from the Home Office. The phone number you call gives absolutely no information at all.

“I know they’re getting a lot of applications through, but we need to understand why the visa hasn’t been given, because we provided all the right paperwork.”

Olga’s family endured a frightening 27 hour train journey via Lviv, out of the Ukraine and in to Poland, and are now staying in an apartment near Krakow as they wait for news on their final visa application.

“It’s hard to know how traumatised they’ll be,” said Steven.

“The kids are aged five, eight and ten, so maybe for the younger one, they may be a little bit too young to understand what’s going on, but the older ones will definitely pick up on the stressful atmosphere.

“Now they’re stuck in a state of limbo – the children can’t go to school.”

Olga and her mum are teaching the children as best they can under the circumstances, and looking forward to the time when they can take up school places at offered to them in Cirencester.

Olga has also set up a site on Telegram, which is like the Russian/Ukrainian version of Whatsapp/Facebook, to try to match UK families wanting to house Ukrainians with people fleeing Ukraine.

“She’s doing very well, she’s got about ten or 12 families matched up already to go and apply to the system,” said Steven.

Steven and Olga are planning to get married in Stratton church in May, and he said he is hopeful that the family will arrive in time for the ceremony to go ahead.

Cotswold District Council leader Joe Harris has been trying to help the family.

He said: “The family is desperate to be reunited, and take up places at offered to them at local primary schools and to be able to marry as planned at Stratton Church this summer.”

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