We welcome the recognition that individuals and communities in the UK can play in a key role in opening their doors to those urgently in need of safety having fled from the conflict in Ukraine.
We’ve seen through Community Sponsorship that when communities come together, they make a powerful difference in helping refugees to feel at home, and able and confident to access what they need as they find safety in the UK. We know that friends and neighbours around those who provide hosting will play an important part in welcoming and supporting families who arrive in the country.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the compassion and willingness to help that we have seen in the past days coming from across the nations, and the numbers of people coming forward to offer space in their homes and their support. Businesses, charities, places of worship and other organisations have come forward to sponsor, and we know from Community Sponsorship that civil society has an important role to play in enabling community welcome.
That sponsors can ‘name’ the family they wish to welcome is powerful in enabling arrivals to happen quickly, and for refugee families to feel connected to where they are journeying to. We are excited by the potential for the amazing breadth of personal and network connections to link together people who can host and people fleeing Ukraine who want to be welcomed.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme offers a way in which individuals can offer rooms in their homes for a 6 month period for those arriving from Ukraine, and to make this a success, we believe that there must be in place clear parameters on what this involves for everyone involved.
Potential sponsors must be fully aware of what they are being asked to do, and whether this is something that they are able to commit to. They will need to consider the impact that offering a room in their home could have on their lives and what it may take to support an individual or family. They must be able to access training and advice to support them as they welcome those who have fled Ukraine. We recommend that any host ensures that they have researched the support that people fleeing conflict may need and what is available in their area, or build connections locally to offer support prior to sponsoring.
Safeguards must be in place for those hosting and for those being hosted. A robust referral process for those who welcome strangers must be in place and facilitation of introducing those wishing to come to the UK with those who are offering sponsorship must ensure that anyone being welcomed is able to make a fully informed decision about offering help.
Speed is absolutely of the essence at present to get people to safety, however, if successful welcome is to be achieved, a focus on making the right connections between those who sponsor and those who are sponsored is essential.
This new scheme is transformational for the way in which communities can welcome refugees in the UK. We think with the right infrastructure and processes, there is real potential to rapidly grow the number of refugees that are welcomed. However, we believe that the humanitarian sponsorship route must sit alongside other routes for arrival, it can only be one part of the broader welcome the UK offers. Through Community Sponsorship we know that communities want to be able to help all those in need of sanctuary. We must all work together to respond to the conflict in Ukraine now, and we want to see this new scheme paving the way for better ways for communities to welcome all those in need, and the infrastructure and commitment from the UK government in place to make that possible.