Homes for Ukraine

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Last week there was much talk around Rye about the UK’s very slow response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. I raised the disappointing government response with MP, Sally-Ann Hart, at her “surgery” last Friday. She explained that she had been pressing with other MPs for action.

The first news last weekend of the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme was long overdue but welcome. At first, only those fleeing the conflict who have family connections in the UK have been able to make an application via the Ukraine Family Scheme. Now, the government reports that tens of thousands of refugees will be eligible under a new route, allowing people in UK to open their homes to those seeking sanctuary.

The widened scheme will provide opportunities for individuals to help, but eventually charities, businesses and community groups will be able to register and offer accommodation and employment.

Initial details have been announced. There will be a vetting process for prospective hosts. This should allay the concerns of organisations such as the Refugee Council, as in Poland there have already been cases of traffickers targeting vulnerable refugees. Security clearance of refugees remains a priority for the security services which are watching for any hostile intelligence operatives exploiting the situation.

Hosts in the UK will have to agree to take the refugees for a minimum period – six months – and demonstrate that they meet “appropriate standards”. In return there is an offer of £350 per month to help with costs. Local authorities will also be given grants to pay for community services for every person accepted on the scheme.

We have been talking with interested parties across Rye, including the Mayor, the Foodbank and those previously involved with Covid support. There are prospective hosts in Rye willing to provide accommodation, but of course, accommodation is only the start. A range of social support and care will be needed, including help with language, vaccinations, health and care support, schooling and leisure.

We are in dialogue with Rother District. The Chief Executive has said that: “Rother District along with the other Councils and public bodies in East Sussex, are keeping a close eye on the situation, with the intention of playing our part in any national response (as we have done with the situations in both Syria and Afghanistan). Because help with language, health, social care and educational services need to be effectively arranged, it is important that all parties involved have a coordinated and agreed approach to whatever scheme is implemented.”

For those who want to register an interest to act as a host, details are here. 

People can raise general questions via Rye News comments or the REACT Facebook site. @ryeact

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Anthony for the above information.
    Earlier this week thousands of us attended an on line event held by the Sanctuary Foundation on how to welcome refugees. For those who would like to watch the recording of this informative event please go to http://www.sanctuaryfoundation.org.uk. You can also pledge your support and be kept up to date with information and training on the Sanctuary Foundation website.

    Also thank you Heidi for highlighting last week the large empty property in Rye previously lived in by a Refugee family from Syria.
    Alongside Heidi and others I have tried to follow up on this 6 bedroom empty property. I understand that it has permission for flat conversion and has been empty since the start of the pandemic. On ringing the social landlords that own the property I was told nothing specific – only that they were considering a number of their properties for Ukrainian refugees. Several of us have written and had no response.
    This 6 bedroom property would be ideal as could house either an extended family or more than one family – so they could support each other alongside the support from the local community.

  2. Over the past month I have registered and filled in forms with required references to the IRC and government schemes but it is difficult to make contact with refugees. I have offered accommodation! I met a friend who has successfully established contact with a family through a very circuitous route! The organisations have responded gratefully but there are many difficulties!

  3. On behalf of the Rye Group, I attended a meeting with Rother District, RVA, various churches, existing refugee groups and some Ukrainians who settled in Eastbourne area after the Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014.
    We were told that 580 refugees (guests) have been “matched” to hosts and are arriving in East Sussex. Lots more are expected. Data will be managed by ESCC and local communities will be informed on a need to know basis.

    We discussed at length the process for visa applications, travel, reception and support. There is a mass of detail to be digested, covering everything including safeguarding, approvals, finance, religion, language, education, health, culture and even pets.

    Importantly we have established communications with the Authorities and between community groups (Rye, Bexhill, Battle and Robertsbidge, with all the villages and communities between) covering the District. Links are being established with Hastings groups. Websites and social media links are being developed. Checklists will be further considered and circulated. There is more work required on safeguarding and initial support to host families.

    Experience from our work to support the vulnerable across Eastern Rother during COVID (Rye Mutual Aid) and coordinating the operation of the Vax centre is seen as exemplar and relevant. It is being shared and exploited by other community groups.

    If you have registered as a host or consider that you have skills or experience to offer then do please contact us.

    As the Rye Group continues to work we will update the community with progress.

    REACT

  4. This is from Rother’s website –
    “Homes for Ukraine
    The Council has been made aware of the Governments Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
    The Scheme, recently announced by central government, seeks to match people, charities, businesses and community groups to Ukrainians who do not have established families in the country, so they are able to come the UK.
    We are now waiting for further details from Government as to how this scheme will work in Rother, and how the Council and our local communities will be able to take part.
    We are engaging with local community groups and our partners at Rother Voluntary Action to coordinate and prepare ourselves for the introduction of the scheme and we invite interested groups and organisations to get in touch with us by emailing customer.services@rother.gov.uk
    We will continue to publicise further information on our website and via our normal communication channels including My Alerts and social media.”
    https://www.rother.gov.uk/news/ukrainian-refuge-crisis/

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