Sussex law student is attempting to get grandmother safely from Ukraine to the UK

‘The road to Poland is completely blocked by cars – no one can get out.’

A Sussex student has been trying to find help to safely get her vulnerable grandmother out of Ukraine and to the UK.

23-year-old law and business student, Anna Maria Szalay, has been contacting charities, as well as Brighton MP Caroline Lucas, in an attempt to find a way to get her grandmother out from Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Anna and her family had already acquired a visitor visa for her grandmother, Svetlana, before the invasion, however Svetlana planned to attend the visa office in order to have her visitor visa stamped on the day the war began.

The news of the invasion had surprised Anna. She told The Argus: “I woke up at 9am and texted my family hello, and my mum said that my gran had called her at 5am and said ‘the war has started, the bombs are dropping’.

“No one expected this. My mum was in Ukraine a week ago and she said that everyone was de-escalating. There were troops but people weren’t particularly worried – there was no warning that this would happen.

“When the news showed scenes of Kyiv, I keep thinking ‘I’ve been there, I know where that is’. It’s unreal.”

Yesterday, Caroline Lucas posted on twitter that she brought Anna’s case to parliament, expressing to the Foreign Secretary that the UK government needs to do more to help Ukrainian citizens gain safe passage out of the conflict, as Anna’s grandmother has been told she must travel 300 miles to have her UK visa stamped.

Anna and her mother are prepared to collect Svetlana from any boarder, however the family need help to get her from Ukraine’s capital to any neighbouring country’s boarder. The family are contacting anyone who can help transfer Anna’s grandmother to safety.

Anna also told The Argus “We’re hearing from relatives in Ukraine that the road to Poland is completely blocked by cars – no one can get out. There’s also no petrol so cars are just dying on the motorway.

“I’m just trying to get her to a border, because once we get her to a border, she has a visa – she just doesn’t have the stamp in her passport.

“She’s really frail, so she wouldn’t manage with a bus that would take more than a few hours, there is a risk trains would be bombed, and tubes are packed because they are being used as hiding places. Unless you have a car, you will not get out.”

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