How can churches respond to the crisis in Ukraine?
As we follow the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine, and continue to pray for peace, we also look to take action to support those forced to flee their homes.
But, as well as our vital prayers, are there other things we can do?
We can give financially
A number of organisations, and the governments of the countries bordering Ukraine who are receiving the vast majority of refugees, have confirmed that financial support is much more valuable than collections of physical goods, which are often subject to issues at customs and cause bottlenecks at distribution.
The Diocese of Europe and United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) have launched a joint Ukraine Emergency Appeal to support partners on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries. For more details, see the Diocese of London website.
We can prepare to welcome those from Ukraine
It is not yet clear on how many refugees may arrive in the UK from Ukraine, but we do expect refugees to start arriving.
Our friends at Welcome Churches, who have huge experience of supporting churches who work with asylum seekers & refugees, have set up Ukraine Welcome which is a bespoke website with information for those arriving about life in the UK.
They are also preparing training for churches in welcoming those from Ukraine. You can join the Welcome Churches network to be alerted when these resources are released.
We can consider taking part in Hosting
The UK Government will launch the first stage of the new Sponsorship Programme called ‘Homes for Ukraine’ on 18th March and you can find details HERE of the scheme. As of Monday 14th March you can already register your interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor.
If you have a spare room or separate accommodation that you are able to offer for a minimum of 6 months, you can sign up to host a refugee individual or a family. According to the announcement in Parliament you will receive a monthly payment of £350 to cover expenses, which is non-taxable, and won’t affect your council tax or benefits. The Ukrainian(s) you host will have access to some benefits (not including housing benefit), the labour market, healthcare, schools and other public services. Further information is available on the Government website FAQs.
At present you need to identify the person or family you want to accommodate and if you can do this they can apply for a visa from Friday 18 March. If you don’t know someone that you want to support, you can still sign up and it is likely that over the coming days various matching schemes will emerge.
Full details will be added here when they become available.
The Church of England for Refugees have also produced a toolkit which you can find HERE to advise churches, and we will keep updating these pages as we receive further information.
This is the first stage of the new sponsorship programme, only for individuals who wish to host. Details of the scheme for churches and community groups have not yet been announced by the government. The Sanctuary Foundation are co-ordinating pledges of support by churches and communities, for Ukrainian refugees. You can pledge support via Sanctuary UK.
We can write to our MPs
The unfolding situation in Ukraine highlights the unthinkable choice facing families of whether to flee their homes in the face of war.
You can email your MP to urge the UK government to do everything they can to support those forced to flee Ukraine.
Also, if the soon to be legislated Nationality and Borders Bill comes into force, it would criminalise any individual, including Ukrainians, who arrive in the UK through any irregular means of travel to claim asylum (Clause 11 of the Bill).
Earlier this week peers in the House of Lords voted for several amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill, including the removal of Clause 11.
As the bill reaches its final stages, this is a critical time to write to our MPs urging them to rethink this legislation.
We can show solidarity to all refugees
The situation in Ukraine reminds us of all those forced to flee their homes, including those from Afghanistan, Syria, Hong Kong, and so many other countries.
Community Sponsorship is something which many churches and community groups in London have already been involved in. Your church and people in your community can become directly involved in the resettlement of a newly arrived refugee family in your local area. More details can be found HERE or contact email@example.com
We continue to pray for the people of Ukraine, and for all those caught up in this terrible conflict; we also pray that as the Church here in London, God would stir us to know what we are called to do to respond.