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Working with your Local Authority

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 by Local Authorities 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. 

Northern Ireland

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.’

Interacting with your local authority

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. 

Your local authorities main role will be to make sure that you and your guests are safe, comfortable and protected. 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.

Finding Local 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:

  • Local shops – both supermarkets and local shops. Talk through how you get best value for money (e.g., Waitrose/Booths vs Asda/Aldi/Lidl), any customs (e.g., using self-service checks outs and avoiding the carrier bag charge). It may be that the newcomers wish to access culturally appropriate food and products – if you don’t know where these shops are locally, now’s the time to find out! The cost of produce in the UK might come a surprise; so being ready to talk through budget saving tips can be helpful. You can look at our Cost of Living resource, which is also available in Ukrainian for your guests to become more familiar with the cost of living in the UK.

  • Organise a town or city tour, this will help you to find out what is important and of interest to the newcomers, and from this you can build the rest of your support. Keep in mind that asking, ‘what would you like to do?’ isn’t helpful, as the newcomers won’t know what there is to do locally. Don’t forget that simply going out for a coffee and chatting is a fantastic way to get to know people. 

  • Community services – places of worship, community centres, local leisure activities, healthcare centres, libraries, and banks. Don’t forget to ask what interests the newcomers have they might like to share. 

  • Keep in mind that your guests are likely to be on a low income initially; keep the activities you invite them to free or low-cost.  

Find Local Charities