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How to support Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK

Thousands of people have signed up to the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Thinking of joining them? This is what you need to know

Thousands of people have signed up to the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Thinking of joining them? This is what you need to know

Within five hours of launching yesterday, some 44,000 people had registered their interest in the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. The programme allows people to take in refugees fleeing the war. 

Can I take in a Ukrainian refugee? 

Those registering through the government scheme must be able to offer a spare room or whole residence for at least six months, though they should probably be prepared to offer the room for longer. 

Applicants will be vetted, as will Ukrainian nationals. Each household receiving a refugee will be offered £350 a month, tax-free. Hosts will not be expected to provide food and living expenses, but may wish to do so. 

People who have space can register their interest on the Homes for Ukraine website. Approved applicants will be able to sponsor a Ukrainian national from Friday, but will initially have to know the name of the individual that they want to help.

The UK government, which has been heavily criticised for its reluctance to take in Ukrainian refugees, said the scheme would be expanded so refugees with no links to the UK can be hosted. It did not offer a timescale for this. There will be no limit on the number of Ukrainian refugees who can come to the UK, the government said.

Are there other schemes?

Yes. The charity Positive Action In Housing has been matching refugees to people with spare rooms since 2002. Its Room For Refugees programme has housed people from Syria, Afghanistan and many other conflict zones, and will now help displaced Ukrainian nationals. You can sign up as a host via its website.

Refugees At Home is another charity doing similar work. Since 2015, it has found homes for 2,500 refugees from 65 countries. In the last few weeks, more than 5,000 people have volunteered rooms via its website.

What about refugees from other countries?

The refugee crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine will not stop Rooms For Refugees or Refugees At Home from helping other nationals. “We will of course continue to host asylum seekers and refugees fleeing other conflicts while we work on this new scheme,” said Refugees At Home.

Hosts must be able to offer accommodation for at least six months. Image: Christopher Jolly

Can I still help if I don’t have a spare room? 

Even if you don’t have accommodation to offer, you can still help house Ukrainian refugees. Positive Action In Housing needs volunteers to help it approve accommodation providers. 

“If there are people who are interested in signing up to help us assess hosts and get them to the stage where they are signed off and ready to host, that is something we would welcome,” Adam Paterson, the charity’s accommodation co-ordinator, told Positive News. 

Does it matter where I live?

Technically, no, but Refugees At Home said accommodation in large cities is preferable. “In our experience, refugee guests would prefer to be housed in London and large cities,” it said. “Most do not want to be hosted in the countryside because they crave community, the language they speak, the food they know, English lessons, often some therapeutic help.”

I’m Ukrainian, how do I find accommodation in the UK? 

Ukrainian residents and nationals wishing to stay in the UK can fill out this form via the Positive Action In Housing website. Its staff will find someone to take you into their home so that you can be allowed to enter under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The Homes for Ukraine scheme is open to Ukrainian nationals or the immediate family of a Ukrainian national, providing they were a resident in Ukraine before 1 January 2022.

More resources for Ukrainian refugees can be found here.

Will I have access to UK services? 

As part of the government scheme, refugees will have access to the National Health Service and other public services. Children will also be able to attend local schools.

Main image: A mother fleeing Ukraine with her baby. Credit: Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

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