Homes for Ukraine allows people to welcome Ukrainian refugees into their homes for a minimum of six months. We run a bespoke matching service to support this.
However you may have met the people that you want to sponsor, if you do not know them personally, it’s important that you speak to them on the phone to make sure that both you and the person you want to sponsor are making an informed decision to move forward with this programme.
We know that having these initial conversations can be daunting, so we’ve made a quick guide to help you think about what kind of things to discuss and ask.
Before you arrange a call, you could also send your guests our guide to talk to you, which is available in Ukrainian and Russian.
If it’s possible, we strongly recommend that these initial calls take place with video. If your guest doesn’t speak English, or has limited English, navigating these conversations will be more complicated. For some conversations, you can use apps like Google Translate or Say Hi – be sure to have a look at our advice on how to use these!
It’s still very important to make sure you have at least a voice call but preferably a video call with your guests as well – it won’t be perfect but it will at least help you start to build the foundation of your relationship and even show them around your home. You can watch our video on modifying your speech, which can help your guests understand you more easily.
Most translation apps also do voice translation, where you can speak into the app and it will speak back to your guest in their native language. If you have a few devices to work with, you’ll be able to have an imperfect conversation. Some tips for using translation apps are:
You may find that following your conversation, you do not feel comfortable to sponsor this person, or the same for them. Give one another space to make this decision and be honest if you feel that this refugee will not settle well where you live. Do not leave them guessing however, and be clear if this is the case so that they can find another sponsor. If they choose to not take up your offer of sponsoring them, respect their decision.
You can signpost them to the Reset matching site.
If you know a Ukrainian who is currently not in the UK, you or they can directly apply for a visa with you as the named sponsor. If you do not know someone, but would like to be matched with a refugee, you can apply through our matching services at www.homesofrukraine.org.uk. Our services include advise and guidance, as well as mandatory trainings.
Once the visa application has been submitted, the UK Government will inform your local authority that an application has been made. The local authority will be in contact with you to arrange a home visit and carry out their checks.
The Home Office will approve the visa after background and eligibility checks are done on the refugees. Once the visa application is approved, they will provide the refugee with a ‘permission to enter’ letter to those outside of the UK. This means the person coming to the UK will be able to enter the UK. Responsibility for travel lays with the guest or sponsor.Some airlines, European railways and all UK train companies are offering free travel to Ukrainians who show their Ukrainian passport and travel by train within 48 hours of arriving in the UK. You can find out more information about travel here.
Throughout the six months that you sponsor someone to the UK, your local authority will be in close contact with you as they provide wrap-around support, meaning help to sign up to different services, for the people you sponsor. Some local authorities offer more support than others, or different forms of support. You can check your local authority’s website to find out how they are supporting Ukrainians through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
If you are unable to continue providing accommodation after six months, you should give as much notice as possible and no less than two months’ notice to the people you sponsor for them or the local authority to find onward accommodation. If you’re unsure how to start this conversation, you can look at our advise to help you through the process.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes things go wrong. Often a chat and cup of tea can resolve many problems but there are occasions where the problems are insurmountable. If your relationship with your guest has broken down, you must let your local authority know.
Local authorities have been mandated by Government to ‘rematch’ refugees if a relationship has broken down or in case of an emergency. It is your local authority who will determine whether a rematch is required. Reset do not participate in non-emergency rematching at present.
If the breakdown is due to any illegal or harmful activity, you should inform the police. Your local authority should then work to find a new sponsor for your guests.
Your local authority might approach you to house a refugee group which has left their initial sponsor. If you are approached you should think about what you need to know before you take on the group. Here’s our advice;
If you do agree to consider a ‘rematch’, we’d advise that you ask to meet the refugee group first and set out your expectations / discuss boundaries.
If you have decided to work with your local authority to participate in their rematching scheme and are no longer available to be matched to those outside of the UK through Reset we would ask that you close yourself to matching on Reset’s service. If we think you are available, we will be proposing you to Ukrainians wishing to find safety here and this will lead to building the hopes and expectations of refugees needing to arrive. You can close yourself to matching on your profile or email us at [email protected] to do this for you.
There is so much to learn and share about the Homes for Ukraine programme. We’ve made this video to outline the key things we think sponsors for this programme should know.
Please note that if you are using the Reset matching service, you will be asked to complete different training to this video, which talks more about our process and how we will work with you and those you welcome.
There’s matching taking place through many organisations, people and connections to welcome Ukrainians to the UK. We think it’s important for sponsors to be fully prepared, no matter the route they choose to find someone to sponsor so we have shared the below video for your use.
Many organisations and experts offer training to Homes for Ukraine sponsors that you might find useful.
We believe that it’s important to share what we’re learning through Homes for Ukraine too, and our CEO is sharing what we’re seeing and hearing in a series of posts on our website.
Read what we have learnt from working with the refugees using our matching service, and what we know about working with sponsors.
Forms of community-led welcome are all about coming together to provide a welcome to newcomers to your area. Make sure you research the support groups that exist in your area to find out what is available locally and build great relationships with your local authority who are responsible for the wrap around support for the person or people you support through Homes for Ukraine.
Welcome to Reset’s Service for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. We support, advise and guide people to welcome Ukrainian refugees and offer a matching service for the scheme.
It’s incredible that you have decided to support people fleeing Ukraine. Welcoming refugees into your home is not a small undertaking nor something you should go into without seriously considering what this might mean to you and those who you live with.
There is so much to think about when becoming a sponsor, from understanding trauma to building healthy boundaries for you and your guest. We encourage you to have a look through our Homes for Ukraine website to make sure you feel prepared and comfortable on your sponsor journey.
In this toolkit, you will find resources that outline the support you might need to provide if you are welcoming refugees into your home.
Understanding the Homes for Ukraine Programme
How does the Homes for Ukraine process work?
Applying for the Visa
Working with Others
Finding Local Support
Thinking About your Support
Training and Support
This toolkit is not designed for those who have arrived through the Ukraine family visa scheme but might contain some useful information if this is who you are supporting.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme is being designed and developed at pace, so you should ensure that you are using up to date information from gov.uk; we will attempt to keep our materials up to date as the programme develops.
It’s important that you feel prepared to support your guests when they arrive. Even with support from your local authority and community, your guests will most likely look to you for their point of contact for any advice, guidance or support they may need, especially in the first few months. Below you will find links to resources to assist you in planning the support that you will offer to your guests, and important things to think about around the topics of empowerment, boundaries, and safeguarding.
It’s important to remember how much power you will be holding in the relationship with your guests, and equally how you can be a source of empowerment for them. You are essentially their landlord, their supporter, initially you may be the only person they have to talk to in the entire country. Read through our guide to understand how help those you welcome feel confident and able to navigate life in a new country.
You may be unsure how to prepare your property for when your guests arrive. You can read through our advice to make sure that your property is ready to welcome somebody.
Financial matters under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme can be confusing. We’ve made this resource to help you get a better idea of finances related to the scheme. For most people, talking about financial matters can be uncomfortable and daunting, especially with new guests in your home that you want to make feel welcome. We encourage hosts to be as open as possible regarding financial matters which relate to the Homes for Ukraine Scheme to avoid awkward and uncomfortable situations in your household.
We all have a responsibility to one another to prevent ourselves and one another from harm. Your local authority will have a safeguarding board and when you meet, you should make sure that you ask about how you can report a safeguarding concern relating to the person you are sponsoring should it is needed. Your role is not to take on the place of statutory services, but we all have a role to report whether there are concerns about the welfare of children or vulnerable adults and take action to address them where appropriate. Read more here.
When your guest arrives, you may need to help them in several areas of support. Be mindful where your responsibility ends and the local authority responsibility begins, if you are in doubt, check with your local authority. Always remember the empowerment approach when helping your guest to understand different systems in the UK – never doing something for someone.
Thinking about the end of your support is one of the first things we encourage all hosts to do when planning their support for refugees. It may feel strange to start thinking about the end of your support offer before a guest even arrives, but planning for the end of your support is just as important as planning for the initial welcome. Check out our advice and guidance on this topic to make sure you feel prepared before your guests arrive.
This programme is being developed at a fast pace to respond to the emergency need for Ukrainians to find safety here. We recommend that you sign up for updates from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to stay up to date with changes to the scheme.
The UK Government is asking people to sponsor Ukrainians to come to the UK and to offer them accommodation for a minimum of a six-month period. The accommodation can either be a room in the sponsors’ home, or a self-contained property.
You cannot charge rent for the first 6 months of hosting. After the initial 6 months period, if you are providing a self-contained accommodation for which they have a tenancy agreement, they may be eligible for the housing benefit part of their social welfare benefits (universal credit) and will be able to pay rent at the local housing allowance rate. You should note that the housing benefit portion of Universal Credit falls short of most market-rate rental costs.
Those who sponsor will be eligible for a £350 payment per month via their Local Authority subject to satisfying their checks. Read more about financial matters regarding this scheme.
Those applying to be sponsored to the UK must be Ukrainian, or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national, who:
The UK Government considers an immediate family member to be:
The person/people being sponsored will not have refugee status in the UK, instead, they will have three years’ leave to remain. They will be eligible to access public funds, health care and education and those of working age will be permitted to work. You can look into the type of support offered to refugees under this programme here.
You must be based in the UK and have at least six months leave to remain. You can be of any nationality and must be able to prove your identity. You must have a place for your guests to stay, this could be a spare room or separate property, it cannot be a bed in shared living space. Housing rules in the UK are complicated, so check our guidance for more information.
Sponsors must provide accommodation to an individual or family for a minimum of six months. You will also need to provide a welcome to your area. Your local authority will be responsible for the wrap-around support for the people you sponsor, but you should expect to provide some support yourself. Later in the toolkit, we will cover the different types of assistance: registering with a GP, dentist, accessing local and public services and opening a bank account. You can also have a look at our more detailed advice for supporting your guests here.
The accommodation you provide will need to be safe for your guests. The UK Government states:
“All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition.
You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. Two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room.”
They have further guidance available on what the accommodation should meet on their website.
You should expect a visit and housing inspection from your local authority prior to, or shortly after the arrival of your guests.
It’s important that you make an informed decision to become a sponsor, so we encourage you to look through this toolkit and check our Homes for Ukraine website for more advice before you commit to becoming a sponsor. Don’t forget that there are lots of ways in which you can support refugees and ensure communities welcome newcomers. You might wish to consider getting involved in Community Sponsorship, connect with your local City of Sanctuary group or find ways to campaign to show that those who are displaced from their homes are welcome here.
Your local authority will be providing wrap-around support for the people you sponsor. It may be that your guests do not know who the local authority are, or what their role is in supporting them. It’s good to know exactly what your local authority is providing, and to share this with your guests. Their support could include registering children in school, signing up for benefits and providing access to English language lessons. You can read the guidance issued here:
Each local authority will receive a tariff of £10,500 per person sponsored to their area to provide support. Your local authority is responsible for passing sponsors the £350 per month thank you payment, and the £200 initial cash payment for each refugee arriving in the UK to set up while they wait for their benefits to be processed. You can find out more about financial matters regarding this scheme here. Councils will decide themselves how they will deliver their casework support to those who arrive. They will also be responsible for carrying out checks on sponsors. Where children are sponsored within a family unit, the local authority will be able to claim funding for education for 2 to 18-year-olds.
Please keep in mind that if something goes wrong once your guests arrive you should speak to your local authority immediately. For any dangerous or emergency issues, you should call the police.
There is further advice for Northern Ireland Ukraine crisis | nidirect. We have been asked by the Northern Ireland Executive on 25 May 2022 to specify that ‘Please note the £350 payment in Northern Ireland is not processed via local council but instead is via the NI Government. You will be eligible to apply for the £350 payments once an initial home visits confirming the standard of your accommodation is complete, Access NI and safeguarding checks have been completed and it is confirmed that your guest has arrived safely. Lead sponsors will be will be contacted when it is confirmed all checks are completed with details on how to apply for the payment. This payment will be made monthly in arrears based on the date your Ukrainian guest(s) arrived.’
It’s important to establish a good relationship with your local authority. They will be in contact with you once your guest’s visa application has been received by the Home Office. Take time to understand the demands and pressures they are under in offering support and do keep in mind that they will have the best interests of the people you sponsor at all times.
Be prepared to answer questions in relation to the support you might be offering the people you sponsor; this might feel a little invasive, but it is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure everyone welcomed is safe. You can discuss together how you can work as a partnership.
When you meet with your local authority, ensure that you ask them about what to do if things don’t go well, or you or the people you support are not comfortable. Having open and honest conversations at the outset will make things easier if things don’t go as planned. You may also want to ask what other local support or services are available for the people you support.
We know from our work in Community Sponsorship that the best welcome is created when many people are involved. As you’re awaiting to be matched to someone, or a visa to be processed, start researching any organisations or services that might be of interest to someone just arriving. Don’t overwhelm new arrivals with information, instead, be ready to offer signposting to activities that might be of interest.
Find charities who support new arrivals locally, from different refugee backgrounds, and search local social media sites. Networking in your local community will be crucial. Get out there and ask what is happening! Make sure people know what you are hoping to achieve and be open to working with others. You might find that some organisations set up to support refugees or those seeking asylum aren’t able to assist, so find others who may be willing to help; could your immediate neighbours offer to provide some local orientation for when your guests arrive?
Helping your guests to explore the local area is a key activity for sponsors. We ask that you be guided by what the newcomers would like to see and do, but you’ll need to be mindful that they are not going to know what is available and if you feel comfortable, share the things you enjoy doing locally. At a minimum, we suggest showing:
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