The information below is being shared on behalf of North East Churches Acting Together
The UK Government has announced a number of ways that Ukrainian refugees can come to the country:
Family reunion scheme – for those who have families in Ukraine.
Home for Ukraine scheme- people with accommodation to offer in this country can link with a named person from Ukraine that they wish to sponsor. The accommodation must be available for at least 6 months, rent free. The sponsor will receive a gift payment of £350 per month gift. Register through government website https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/
We need to recognise that at the moment many refugees are reluctant to leave countries with close proximity to Ukraine. The situation may change if war goes on and neighbouring countries become overwhelmed. We know that the Visa system is complicated and can take a long time to be processed and so numbers entering the country at the moment are quite low.
We understand that some of you will be interested in being part of the UK Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.
The ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme itself is being run by the UK Government. You can find details of the scheme itself on the Government’s Homes for Ukraine website, where you can also register your interest in hosting, as well as Frequently Asked Questions related to the scheme.
We recognise that people who are offering to host will need the support of a larger community and we advise you to talk this through with your local church.
As a region, we hope that some of our denominations will be signing up to be Strategic Partners
Things to think through as you consider hosting
The opportunity to be a host and open up your home to someone in need can be a unique, humbling and deeply enriching experience. However before you commit to hosting, it is important to think through carefully what this will mean for you (and your family). Whilst not claiming to be an exhaustive list, below are some areas it may be helpful to think through.
Reflecting on our motivations for hosting
The primary concern in any decision making should always be for the refugee’s welfare. Sometimes in our desire to help we can think in terms of our need rather than who we are seeking to serve!
It is really important to reflect on our own motivations for hosting, as well as on previous experiences of hosting. Asking questions such as the following may be helpful, as we think through the realities of hosting:-
How do we feel about having someone living in our home for a sustained period of time?
What experiences do we have previously of having people to stay for longer periods? How have we found those periods? What have been the joys, and also the challenges?
What are our motivations for hosting and ensuring that these are not wanting to host on a whim, or out of feelings of guilt or powerlessness?
It is important to think about our expectations of those we host. Do we have a preconceived idea of what a Ukrainian refugee may be like? How do we expect them to behave? Do we expect their gratitude? Do we expect them to participate in family life?
These are hard questions, but it’s important to consider that those arriving may be traumatised, shocked and probably a bit nervous. It’s important not to place expectations on them. They will probably be exhausted arriving in the UK. Your guest may want to interact a lot with you as the host (and family), or they may prefer to spend more time alone, in their room, or with their friends outside the home. They may want to join in family life and eat with you, they may not. It’s important that we manage our own expectations and respect our guest’s desire for privacy.
Refugees are vulnerable, and they are likely to be experiencing some level of trauma. The behaviour of traumatised people can be unpredictable, challenging, and not as you expect. IIt is therefore important to think through how much emotional resilience you have at present, and who will support you? The chances of finding yourself out of your depth are very real, so only offer your home if you have a strong support network around you.
The integration of refugee individuals and families works best where those hosting have a network who will support both the host and the guest. There are so many aspects of settling into life in a new country. In practice you should be prepared to help them with basic integration requirements such as finding and registering with a GP, and using public transport. Perhaps helping them to access benefits, or apply for school places. You are not required to provide meals although of course you may choose to do so. It’s important to think about who in your wider networks you can draw in to support their integration, including identifying any local support organisations.
It will also be important to think through the wider provisions locally- are school places or GP places available locally? Is there the prospect of social links with the wider community for your guest?
What will be expected of me as a Host?
- To provide accommodation for at least 6 months, rent free, but it would be good to think though what might happen if your guest requires accommodation for longer.
- This can be ‘stand-alone’ accommodation or accommodation in someone’s home, but there will be checks made by the Local Authority around suitability.
- The Local Authority will be required to carry out DBS checks on all adults in the hosting household. A new DBS will be required as part of the registration process.
- Travel to the UK is the responsibility of the guest and host. There are some airlines offering helps and some rail companies offering subsidised travel. Guests may need to be met at the airport or station.
- A gift payment of £350 will be available to each host household, administered through the Local Authority.
- Support the guest in applications for benefits, school places, registering with a GP, looking for work. Each Local Authority has been given some funds to help with this but this is unlikely to be able to cover sustained individual support.
Once you have been matched with a Ukrainian individual or family, you will need to liaise with them to complete the UK Government visa application form. When you have completed the form, your local authority will be alerted and will contact you to ask you to complete a safeguarding DBS form. They will also carry out a home check.
What do I need to do to make sure my home is suitable for my guest?
All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition.
You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. Two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room. The accommodation should:
- be kept clean and in a reasonable state;
- have adequate kitchen and bathroom space;
- have access to drinking water;
- have a working smoke detector on each floor of the property and other fire safety precautions suitable for the building e.g. fire doors or escape routes as appropriate (further information on making a home safe from fire;
- have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove);
- have sufficient heating to keep the property at a comfortable temperature;
- have safe gas appliances, fittings and flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year (see more information);
- have safe and working electrics, which a qualified electrician can help with if you are unsure;
- be almost entirely free of damp or mould;
- have doors and windows at entry level that lock properly;
- be easy and safe to move around in, without excessively steep staircases that may cause harm.
We would advise that for each host there should be a small volunteer team involving 4 or 5 people, who are as local as possible to the accommodation. These could be friends and neighbours, church members or trusted local community members. It would be very useful if amongst that group there was access to Ukrainian or Russian speakers, those with time and ability to register for GP/school/benefits and some with experience of working with refugees. This team could take on some of the tasks, such as applications for the above as well as widening the circle of welcome to Ukrainians and reducing isolation
Other things to think about:
- the use of shared spaces- such as the use of the kitchen, bathroom, as well as utilities such as the telephone, computer etc. It is really important to agree boundaries on both sides from the outset.
- Security of the house. Whether you will provide a set of keys for the property/ sleeping area?
- Meals, cooking and food storage.
- Use of washing machine, provision of and washing of towels/ bed linen?
- Use of household equipment (e.g. telephone, computer, TV)
- Guests’ own electrical equipment
- Use of portable heaters
- Storage space for guests’ personal belongings
- Use of alcohol
- Covid Risk considerations, such as vaccination status
- Guests’ visitors
- Household pets
It’s important to think through communication, and how you will discuss any issues/ concerns as they arise. It can be helpful also to think about building in some review points with your guest after a week, and then month, to be able to talk through how things are going on both sides, and any adjustments which may be needed.
In terms of language, it may be that those hosted have a good level of English, but it’s also important to think through how we would manage communication if there is a language barrier. Are there people who can help translate where required? Is there local provision for English language learning if required?