With the number of displaced Ukrainian families now in their millions, many want to learn how they can house a Ukrainian refugee via the UK government scheme and other official channels.
Over 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian began its invasion (opens in new tab) in February 2022 - a horrifying figure that Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has defined as the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two.
Civilans across the globe have been rallying to help displaced Ukrainian nationals as the humanitarian disaster continues, with many donating to Ukraine (opens in new tab) by way of clothing, resources or financial support. But those who have the space are now being encouraged to go one step further and house a Ukrainian refugee in the UK. The British government have shared inital plans for a nationwide scheme, whilst several charities are already successfully pairing refugees with hosts - which you can also sign up to.
How to house a Ukrainian refugee in the UK:
The UK government has unveiled a 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme which will enable Brits to house a Ukrainian refugee. Individuals and businesses can sign up to offer a spare room in their home to displaced Ukrainians or provide similar refuge in a separate property rent-free. This accommodation must be available for a minimum of six months. And in return, hosts will receive £350 a month as a thank you for their kindness.
The initiative was shared by Housing and Communities secretary Michael Gove, who was recently sacked (opens in new tab) from the Cabinet. The Homes for Ukraine (opens in new tab) website went live on Monday 14 March, whilst a special hotline is expected soon too.
Homes for Ukraine
- Those that apply as hosts will be vetted as part of the application to ensure the safety of Ukrainian refugees.
- They must be able to provide accomodation for at least six months. Though the government are urging people to provide this accomodation for as long as possible.
- According to the Telegraph (opens in new tab), the Home Office will recruit the refugees and carry out security checks on them before pairing with a suitable host or offer of accomodation.
- Ukrainian refugees who are part of the scheme can stay for three years in the UK. During this time they are entitled to work and can access public services.
- Hosts will receive a monthly 'thank you' payment of £350. Local authorities can also claim £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee to financially support them.
- There's no limit to the number of refugees that can benefit from the scheme.
Michael Gove said the Government hopes to welcome and house the first Ukrainian refugees as of 21 March, 2022.
"The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can," he added. "I urge people across the country to join the national effort and offer support to our Ukrainian friends. Together we can give a safe home to those who so desperately need it."
The government scheme is still set to go live. But there are already established charities that allow volunteers to house Ukrainian refugees.
Refugees at Home
Refugees at Home (opens in new tab) is one such charity which "connects those with a spare room in their home to refugees and asylum seekers in need of somewhere to stay." The organisation announced their first successful house a Ukrainian refugee placement in March 2022. And they're eager for new volunteers to sign up to help more.
You can apply to house a Ukrainan refugee (opens in new tab) on the Refugees at Home website. However, it's worth noting that the charity are actively seeking hosts that live in a city or large town with good transport links.
Applications have also increased considerably since the start of the Russia and Ukraine conflict. So they're asking for additional patience as they get back to you and your application.
Ukraine Take Shelter
Independent platform Ukraine Take Shelter (opens in new tab) was set up by Harvard students Avi Schiffmann and Marco Burstein. Described as a 'Craiglist for refugees' the website states that it works by "connecting Ukrainian refugees with potential hosts and housing".
Those with spare space can post a listing sharing details of what accomodation they can offer. Be it a room, a separate property or even a sofa. Refugees can then search available listings in a specific location and make contact with the host to see if the accomodation is available.
The site's creators are asking hosts who successfully house a Ukrainian refugee to update the status of their listing. This is to avoid disappointment for hopeful Ukrainian nationals.
The majority of listings are in European countries close to Ukraine - such as Hungary and Poland. But offers have also come from hosts all over including Israel, the US and UK. These offers are still considered helpful as some refugees are seeking shelter in countries where they have close ties.
"The thing about the site is that it puts the power back into the hands of refugees - they can see the listings and pick from them rather than waiting around to be matched by a nonprofit or a government," said founder Avi Schiffmann. "They already feel powerless - now they can use their own initiative and go to the site and find a listing for themselves."
Shelter for Ukraine
Shelter 4 UA (opens in new tab) are offering housing, transportation and baby sitting services to Ukrainian refugees. People across the globe can sign up to host a refugee on the site. Simply share your spare room available by clicking the ‘Become a Host’ button and filling out a form.
Shelter4UA have also produced a worldwide map (opens in new tab) showing countries that are offering temporary accomodation to Ukrainians too. This is helpful if you’re trying to help a loved one affected by the conflict.
The Sanctuary Foundation
The Sanctuary Foundation (opens in new tab) is a coalition of charities that are providing support to Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK. They're asking people to register their interest on the site. Be that as a host, a financial sponsor or volunteer to provide befriending and integration support.
Whilst the organisation recognises the upcoming Homes for Ukraine scheme it hopes to "assist and accelerate the government response" by gathering together "expressions of interest from potential sponsors as soon as possible."
"We are therefore asking individuals, community groups, churches, schools and businesses to register their interest in becoming a sponsor when the scheme is developed," their website states. "Declaring your interest will greatly assist the development and acceleration of this vital provision for Ukrainian refugees."
You can sign up and fill out a quick form to pledge your support (opens in new tab) online. To date, 15,078 pledges have been registered. This includes 13,000 individuals plus 810 churches, 279 businesses and 59 schools.
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