Margate ambulance driver’s frustration that refuge offer for Ukrainian woman held up over ‘window hinges’

Sue has prepared a room for Polina but the window hinge issue is a sticking point

A Margate ambulance driver says she has hit a wall in her efforts to offer a home to a Ukrainian woman because Thanet council says her bedroom windows “do not open wide enough.”

Sue Miller applied to the Homes for Ukraine scheme in May and is waiting to provide a place to stay for Kyiv resident Polina.

The Russo-Ukrainian War  is an ongoing international conflict between Russia, alongside Russian-backed separatists, and Ukraine, which began in February 2014. It escalated in February 2022 when Russia invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine. At least 62,295 people have died since the upscaled conflict began.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme (formally known as the Ukraine Sponsorship scheme) allows individuals in the UK to sponsor a named Ukrainian national or family to come to live in the UK with them, providing they have suitable accommodation to offer.

But Sue’s Margate property failed the home inspection by Thanet council and she was told she needs escape windows in the bedroom – despite saying she already has escape windows.

The mum-of-three said: “Due to the layout of my house, it’s quite open plan downstairs, the council said I would need escape windows at the back. Both back bedrooms were fitted with escape windows years ago. Unfortunately they don’t meet the council’s tolerances. They have suggested I change the hinges.

“They are following the rules they set for landlords but I won’t be a landlord, I wish to sponsor a Ukrainian. I’ve been put in touch with a lady that wishes to come here and we’ve built a friendly relationship over WhatsApp during the last couple of months.”

Sue, 60, says she is awaiting the DBS check although she already has a full DBS due to her job and Polina’s visa in “imminent,” but these will be useless if her home is listed as failing the council check.

The nan-of-one said: “I have not told Polina yet, I haven’t got the heart as she is so desperate to get here. I’m not going to say no until I have explored every avenue.

“This is the only issue holding us up.”

Polina, 39, is hoping to come to the UK and study interior design. She has previously worked in the Ukrainian government service.

Polina is hoping to come to the UK

Sue, who has redecorated and bought all new items for Polina’s room, has written to councillors and MP Sir Roger Gale in an effort to get help and has asked for quotes to have the work done as well as enquiring about possible grants but says the decision seems “crazy.”

Sue added: “I want to help because of what Putin has done in Ukraine. I admire the Ukrainians, they have stood up to him and fought for their country. It’s dreadful and I want to do what I can to help.

“If I can’t afford to change the hinges Polina won’t be able to come. I find it hard to believe that the council thinks she would be safer with Putin than with an ambulance driver in Margate.”

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Anyone who wishes to act as a host under the Homes for Ukraine (HFU) scheme must have their home inspected. In the event that a fire hazard is identified mitigating action must be taken before the property can be approved.

“Having inspections and property checks may seem like an additional barrier but in the event of a fire, the consequences could be serious, particularly if there is no adequate means of escape.”

15 Comments

  1. A Thanet council spokesperson said: “Anyone who wishes to act as a host under the Homes for Ukraine (HFU) scheme must have their home inspected. In the event that a fire hazard is identified mitigating action must be taken before the property can be approved.

    “Having inspections and property checks may seem like an additional barrier but in the event of a fire, the consequences could be serious, particularly if there is no adequate means of escape.”

    Oh the irony when they were putting thousands of their tenants lives at risk recently with not carrying out electrical, fire safety checks. And the “client manager” in charge of monitoring this debacle has now been promoted !

  2. I’m sure there will be someone reading this article with the skills and ability to replace the window hinges, to meet the demands of the TDC inspectors..
    Let’s hope so.

  3. Go to the Qeqm hospital the windows only open a couple of inches. Will the council evacuate untill the windows open

  4. Contact the fire service they can say if the windows meet standards alot better than useless TDC.. plus if hinges are the problem just replace them I’m sure if you go to a local window supplier they would be willing to help you sue.
    Try total glaze windows .
    All the best

  5. Yes I offered the same but in the end I withdraw my application I’m sure it was because of being bisexual they suspected I was looking for a close friend. I came to the opinion of the U.K. government want to offer accommodation then let them offer the 5 stars hotels they offer others.

  6. I’m sorry Sis but as we all know TDC are not fit for purpose and they should be ashamed of themselves it’s ok for you to live in the house but not a guest. I’m sure Polina will be safer in Margate than Ukraine.

  7. I don’t see what the drama is.
    Government issued Building Regulations require that certain windows (eg those on the 1st floor) are “escape windows”. There is a clear definition of what constitutes an “escape window “. MS miller’s windows either meet the Government’s criteria, or they don’t. If the latter, it’s in Ms Miller’s interest, to say the least, to get them fixed.

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