Letter from Steve Bowles - Update on 'Homes for Ukraine'
I wanted to write again to update you on the response to the situation in Ukraine, and specifically on the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ visa scheme that the Government announced this week and we have just received further details about.
The updated ‘Homes for Ukraine’ visa scheme opens today (Friday 18 March) for visa applications from Ukrainians who have named people in the UK willing to sponsor them. This scheme allows Ukrainian refugees to find safety in the UK through sponsorship from the public. Details of the visa scheme are available at: Apply for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine)
Key elements include:
The visa application can be completed by either the Ukrainian refugee or the sponsors but will need to include details of both.
The sponsor will then be contacted by the Council who will carry out a basic check of the suitability of the home and also undertake a safeguarding check.
Accommodation should be safe, warm and provide adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. No rent should be charged, and it should be offered for at least six months.
Once the visa is granted, the refugees are free to travel to join their sponsor.
Everyone who is matched will also have to do a DBS check which the Council will organise.
There will be a ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month which will be paid by the Council to households taking in refugees once the appropriate checks have been completed. Payments will be made monthly in arrears.
The Council will receive £10,500 per refugee, per year to ensure the support and services can be provided locally. The Council will support the sponsors in welcoming the refugees and ensuring that they are able to access services such as health, education and benefits as quickly as possible.
This is separate from the UK Family Scheme which is designed to enable Ukrainian applicants to join their family members in the UK: Apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa
In addition, people wanting to be sponsors who do not know anyone personally fleeing Ukraine can also record their interest in being a sponsor. To register an interest in being a sponsor please visit: Homes for Ukraine – Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine
In addition to this scheme, the Council has also formed a local strategic partnership so we can be in the best possible position across the whole of Buckinghamshire to co-ordinate a strong response to whatever scenario presents. It means we have representatives from accommodation, education, health, safeguarding and other services all aligned to support any arrivals as best we can.
Of course, most people will not be in a position to open their homes to a Ukrainian family but still want to help in the best way they can. We’ve launched the council’s own ‘Helping Hand for Ukraine’ programme as another means of providing support for any arrivals into Buckinghamshire. For now, the best way to help is to make monetary donations via the main Disasters Emergency Committee Fund, details of which are on the Helping Hand page – while the situation is so grave and chaotic in Ukraine and the surrounding countries this is the best way to get help and items channelled to where they’re needed most.
As ever, the support and solidarity being shown in communities across Buckinghamshire in response to this dreadful situation is heartening and I thank you for all you are doing in the various ways you’re helping. I hope this is a useful update and I will write again as these plans unfold. Thank you for your ongoing support and the important part you and your local communities play in responding to such crises.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Communities