Information for anyone wanting to respond to those fleeing the war 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 CONSIDER TAKING PART IN HOSTING UNDER THE ‘HOMES FOR UKRAINE’ SCHEME
The UK Government has launched the first stage of the new Sponsorship Programme called ‘Homes for Ukraine’ on 18th March. You can find details HERE of the scheme.
Who can be a host?
If you live in the UK (and have at least 6 months’ leave to remain) and 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 generally including housing benefit), the labour market, healthcare, schools and other public services.
Further information is available on the Government website FAQs.
What do I need to think about as I 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).
We have produced guidance for clergy in the Diocese of London Homes for Ukraine Diocese of London clergy Tips and Considerations. This guidance draws from the experience of running our existing Clergy Hosting scheme. Whilst not an exhaustive list, we hope that it provides some useful considerations as you think through hosting.
The Compassionate Communities team ran an information session on 24th March 2022 on what to consider when hosting and the recording can be found below for those who missed the live session. This session was organised specifically for clergy and other church members in the Church of England Dioceses of London and Southwark, though we hope there is enough information to be useful to anyone.
I’m keen to proceed with hosting- what do I do now?
- At present the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme allows individuals to sponsor named individuals. You as the sponsor will need to identify the person or family you want to accommodate and then either you as the sponsor, or the guest will be able to complete a single application for a visa online, using both parties’ details. If you know who you want to sponsor, you can make an application HERE
- At the same time, if you are clergy in the Diocese of London you should complete this Form, to ensure that the Compassionate Communities, safeguarding, and property teams are aware of your intention to host, and can support you with a hosting agreement between you and your guest(s). You can email us here.
- After the application is submitted, the UK Government have said that Councils will complete checks on both the sponsor, all other adults in the sponsor’s household, and the guest.
- Once both the sponsor and guest have passed the checks, the Home Office will issue the guest with a permit to travel.
- The guest can then travel to the UK and coordinate their arrival with the sponsor. Guests arriving in the country will be eligible for a single onward journey, via national rail, bus, light rail, and coach. This will be free of charge to anywhere in England, Scotland, and Wales. Further information is available HERE
- Specific councils will provide welcome arrangements for guests.
What if I don’t know a person or family I would like to host?
If you don’t know a family, or individual that you would like to support then there are a variety of routes developing to match hosts with potential guests. For clergy in the Diocese of London, please go to the section ‘Specific Guidance for Clergy in the Diocese of London’ below.
For non clergy, one of the organisations we have previous experience of working with is RESET, who have a matching portal you can sign up to.
We are aware that some people are using other channels, such as finding potential guests through social media. Please do not use informal processes such as Facebook to find someone to sponsor as this could play into the hands of people traffickers. Always use a reputable charity, unless you are sponsoring contacts of people you know and trust.
Safeguarding considerations for ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme
General Guidance for the Diocese of London
You should be alert to any possible safeguarding and conduct complications which may arise from having refugee guests in your home.
Guests are most likely to be single women, mothers with children, or elderly and vulnerable. If you have children or vulnerable adults already in your household or visiting, you will need to consider the impact of bringing additional children or vulnerable adults into this – for both sides.
Do seek wisdom and guidance from clergy colleagues, or from the Duty Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor if you feel that you need it either before committing to take refugees in as guests or at any time while you are hosting. (Contact the Duty Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor on 0207 932 1224 during office hours Monday-Friday 9-5pm, between the hours of 5pm and midnight, please contact 31:8 on 0303 003 1111, option 2).
Government guidance is that Councils must undertake basic DBS checks on all adults in the sponsor household. In households where there are incoming arrivals who are children and/or vulnerable adults, an enhanced DBS check with barred lists check will be required for all adults in the sponsor household.
The ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme is not open to unaccompanied minors, however should an unaccompanied minor or vulnerable adult arrive please contact your local authority Children or Adult Social Care Services.
Specific guidance for clergy in the Diocese of London
We ask that you ensure that you let us know about your intention to host using this form so that we can work with our diocesan safeguarding and property teams to support you to ensure that:-
- you as the host have any up to date DBS check (within the last 3 years), and for any other adult family members you live with
- you have completed the Leadership Training, (previously known as C2/C3). For non clergy within the diocese, we suggest, if not already completed, to do the Basic Awareness (C0) and Foundation (C1) safeguarding training courses. These can all be accessed through the CofE Training Portal. More information from the Safeguarding team about training is here
- a clergy hosting agreement is signed, so that our property team can let our building insurers know
PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBPAGE HERE FOR FURTHER GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES SPECIFIC TO CLERGY IN THE DIOCESE OF LONDON
I am not able to host- what else can I do?
We know from experience that the welcome and integration of individuals and families in a new community is not the job of one individual. It works best where there is a network of people who will support both the guest and host. There are so many aspects of settling into life in a new country- finding and registering with a GP, using public transport, setting up a bank account, accessing schooling, or benefits, finding social and leisure activities. If you know anyone in your community who will be hosting an individual/ family, you can ask if they need any wider support?
If you don’t know anyone and are in the Diocese of London, you can sign up for the Compassionate Communities Newsletter HERE. We will communicate details here should we be aware of support needs for individuals and families from Ukraine arriving in the diocese.
What other resources are available?
The Church of England for Refugees have also produced a parish toolkit which you can find HERE to advise churches how they can support the Ukraine response.
RESET also have a Homes for Ukraine Ukraine Toolkit available HERE, which includes links to support around travel to the UK, employment, immigration advice, and health and wellbeing.
NACCOM have a useful Hosting Good Practise Guide which is available HERE
Resources and support for children
One of our schools has shared some helpful resources to support Ukrainian children, which you can find HERE
Action for Children has produced some guidance about how to support your child and reassure them at this challenging time.
They also have a parents and carers helpline to support you with your questions or concerns on handling this and other issues.
Resources from Roots on the web
Roots on the web produces resources connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people. Look for their week focus is on Ukraine.
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. You can contact us for how you can support the Hong Kong or Afghan Welcome.
Community Sponsorship is something which many churches and community groups in London have already been involved in, supporting the resettlement of refugees. 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.