Homes for Ukraine scheme

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 The government has launched the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, encouraging members of the public to offer rooms in their houses to refugees fleeing the fighting in their country.

The scheme has seen phenomenal public interest, with more than 200,000 people across the country registering to host Ukrainians, and hundreds of Lancashire residents have already been matched with refugees, with more expected in the coming weeks.

If you have registered for the scheme and have been allocated an individual or family to host, the information below will help you to find out about the council resources that you and your refugees can access. We will be updating this page regularly with information, as and when we get it.

Lancashire Refugee Integration Team

The scheme is being coordinated by our Lancashire Refugee Integration Team. The team manage all refugee resettlement schemes, including the Syrian Resettlement Programme (VPRS) and the more recent Afghan evacuation (ARAP/ACRS).

The team has an enormous wealth of experience in the area of refugee-crises management and many of the team have lived-experience of being a refugee.

Contacting Us

You can email the team at: HomesForUkraine@lancashire.gov.uk. Please allow 3 working days for a response.

Further information for hosts/sponsors

You can find information about the scheme on the government's webpage: 

Our team have also put together the information below to help both hosts and guests.  

If you or your guest/s have questions, then our webinars will help.

Our Lancashire Refugee Integration Team will give you information on applying for benefits, looking for employment and finding ESOL classes near you. We will also be able to answer questions on how to apply for school places and find further education courses for young people aged 16+.

Anyone with a residential spare room or separate self-contained accommodation that is unoccupied is able to register for the scheme.  The accommodation must be available for at least 6 months, fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated.

Our Refugee Integration Team are ready to work with you to offer safety and support to as many Ukrainians as possible.

Before signing up for the scheme we want you to consider the following questions, to ensure that everyone feels protected and secure:

Housing

  1. Have you checked with your landlord, mortgage provider and home insurance provider to ensure you are able to offer a space?
  2. Are you happy to give a copy of your house key to your guest?
  3. Will you be comfortable allowing people access to your home if you go on holiday?
  4. How will you feel if your guest still hasn't found a house after 12 months? Will you be able to let them stay? Will you feel comfortable evicting your guest? 

Financial

  1. Will this impact on your council tax, utility bills or rent?
  2. Will you be able to provide food and other basics whilst arrivals wait for their benefits claim to be processed?
  3. Can you afford to pay for their flights to the UK? Sponsors are being asked to support Ukrainians to get to the UK and are expected to pick them up from the airport.

Practical 

  1. Do you have the time to support people to register to GPs, dentists, etc.?
  2. Can you help someone navigate a new place and new systems without interpretation or translation support?
  3. Are you comfortable with social workers and support staff visiting your home to help with integration?
  4. Will you feel comfortable living with people who have a very different parenting style or culture?
  5. Are you happy living with someone who has not had any Covid-19 vaccinations?

Emotional

  1. Have you spoken to your family or children about how they feel about hosting a new person in your home?
  2. Have you met someone with PTSD? People suffering from trauma can be very depressed, hopeless and angry. This can be difficult to be around and needs specialised treatment and therapy. PTSD often lasts for years.
  3. Are you able to support someone who has complex mental health problems? Sponsors will be provided with no medical history about a guest.

We are not able to provide any information about the status of your visa application. However our Refugee Integration Team will begin safeguarding checks while you wait for your decision. The first three steps are as follows:

  1. An enhanced DBS check
  2. A Property Check
  3. An Initial Assessment

We are still awaiting further details about the checks from central government so we are unable to give a timescale for completion.

This will change soon however and we hope to have a fast and efficient process in place as soon as possible.

These checks will not impact the speed of your guest's visa being granted and it is likely that your guest will have arrived prior to us completing all the necessary checks.

In the meantime, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with with the Home for Ukraine Sponsor Guidance

IMPORTANT: Whilst the government are refining the data sharing service, it is essential that you notify us as soon as possible if your guest has booked a flight. Please email HomesForUkraine@lancashire.gov.uk with their expected date of arrival.

There are a lot of services and systems that our Refugee Integration Team are putting in place to ensure our new guests can fully integrate into the community, from creating school places to preparing the voluntary sector and translating guidance in to Ukrainian.

We are in the process of recruiting a Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Support Worker who will support each of you on a one-to-one and group basis. In addition to this, we will ensure that your guests have access to a named Support Worker who can help them on their journey to independence.

Other resources we will provide you with include:

  • A Sponsors' Handbook
  • A Guest Handbook in Ukrainian explaining UK systems
  • Free webinars and in-person meetings on various topics
  • Signposting to relevant community services
  • Community gatherings and celebration events

This government's guidance outlines important information for sponsors including responsibilities of sponsors and how sponsors may support their guests.

See the government's guidance - Homes for Ukraine Sponsor Guidance

The government is making available an optional £350 per month payment for up to 12 months towards costs you may incur as a host. Before you can claim this, our Refugee Integration Team will need to undertake a number of checks.

We are still awaiting detailed guidance from government as to how these payments will be issued and what checks they want us to complete in order to release the funds. Payment will be a month in arrears once the checks have been successfully completed.

If you live in the following area, you can apply via your district council using the link below: 

A few people have asked the team if it possible to share Sponsor responsibilities by taking a family for less than six months and then moving the family to a second sponsor for the remainder of the six months.

This is something we would strongly advise against.

Repeatedly uprooting a person who has fled from a warzone can exacerbate trauma. A change of address can also impact on benefits and school places. Additionally, the £350 'thank you' payment will only be issued to the Lead Sponsor who initially accommodates the guest/s.

Information and services available for guests

The government is offering a one-off £200 interim payment for each guest to help with living costs.

Lancashire County Council has taken the decision to increase the welcome payment from £200 to £350 per guest. 

Apply for Homes for Ukraine Scheme Support Payment

*Please make sure that all information is correct as any mistake could lead to a delay in payment.*

A code will then be sent to your guest via email or SMS, which can be presented at any local Post Office. They will then be issued with £350 cash at the Post Office.

If your guest needs support to access English language provision please email Refugee Resettlement ESOL Coordinator Mary Sharples at Mary.Sharples@lancashire.gov.uk who will arrange an assessment or relevant signposting.

Other online resources are available below: 

The best apps for learning English

  • BBC Learning English: All the BBC Learn English lessons and activities in an app
  • Duolingo: Free app, very easy and fun to use. Suitable for adults or children
  • Rosetta Stone: You can pay for a premium version of this but if you just click ‘no thanks’ and on the cross to close down when it asks you to subscribe, there are lots of free 10 minute lessons for beginners to intermediate
  • Memrise: Lots of free vocabulary, listening and matching games. The app is free, just click ‘maybe later’ when it asks if you want to buy the paid version.
  • Drops: Good for vocabulary, a fun app with memory games. Free if you don’t subscribe, just click on the cross to close when it asks if you want to upgrade.

The best podcasts for learning English

  • BBC 6 Minute English - 6 minute videos on language for intermediate and advanced students
  • British Council Learn English Podcast - Lots of episodes with dramas, stories and quizzes. Each episode has a transcript so you can practise reading too. For intermediate level.
  • BBC The English We Speak - 3 minute programmes about English sayings. For intermediate or advanced level.
  • Podcasts in English - Podcast episodes for beginners to intermediate level to help improve conversation. Videos to watch at the same time and transcripts and quizzes available too.
  • Culips English Podcast - American English but interesting topics. Stars used to rate difficulty from 1 to 5.

Websites for beginners / pre-entry level

  • ESOL Courses - Lots of activities on reading, writing and speaking; from learning the alphabet to days of the week and conversation starters
  • Future Learn - Free online 4 week course for beginners through Kings College London. Enrol any time
  • BBC Learning English My Way - Beginners lessons on lots of useful topics

Websites for intermediate level

  • British Council - Online lessons are available for £5.99 per month but the website has lots of resources on grammar, reading, writing and listening for free too.
  • Future Learn - Free 4 week course which uses TV programmes to help build confidence in writing, reading and speaking English
  • ESOL Courses - A fun way to learn English through song lyrics!
  • Cambridge English - Lots of activities, quizzes and links to free games and apps
  • BBC Learning English - Lots of video lessons and activities on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, English for business

Websites for advanced level

  • Oxford Online English - Free English lessons: pronunciation, business English, IELTS preparation
  • Future Learn - English for academic study course. Free but limited 2 week access
  • BBC Skillswise - Writing activities for English and Maths – useful for functional skills exams
  • National Geographic - Grammar, writing and reading activities on nature and science topics

Activities for children

To find a range of health services near you, including hospitals, opticians, mental health services and more, please go to: Find services near you - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Find a doctor

Speak to your GP about how to register, but you can complete Form GMS1 - Family doctor services registration form, although a practice might request more information from you.

Mental Health services

If you're experiencing mental health problems, please visit your GP. We'd also offer some of the following avenues of support:

Maternity hospitals and services

If you wish to find a dentist you can search for one here: Find a dentist - NHS (www.nhs.uk) but please note there is a shortage of appointments nationwide.

If you're struggling to find a dentist then there is some more advice here - How to find an NHS dentist - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

If you're in pain and need an emergency appointment, you can contact the Lancashire & South Cumbria Emergency Dental Helpline on 0300 123 4010.

Lateral Flow Tests are no longer free for all. Please visit the following link to order them - Order coronavirus (Covid-19) rapid lateral flow tests - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

You can also call 119, where language support is available.

To book a vaccination please visit Book or manage a coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk) or speak to your GP.

You can find a range of translated information about Coronavirus on the Doctors of the World website.

If you or your guest have a child of school age then there is a statutory duty upon the local authority to provide some form of education for them. However there is a shortage of places across many parts of Lancashire, so there may be a delay in sourcing a place.

When a place is offered, it may not be the person's first choice, but it is important to think carefully before refusing any place. Any refusal(s) could greatly affect the waiting time for a placement and in some cases lead to social services intervention.

Information on 'school age' and how to apply

Term: September 2021 to July 2022 = Children born from 01/09/2005 to 31/08/2017.

If the child falls within the above age group then you will need to make an 'in-year' application. Please contact one of the following Pupil Access Teams dependent upon your location:

The law states that free travel must be provided if a child under 8 is a distance of over 2 miles from the nearest qualifying school. This rises to 3 miles for children ages 8 and over, and distances are measured by the ‘shortest suitable walking route’. This doesn’t take into account any low-income families, and there are further allowances to soften travel expenditure in such cases.

Visit our School transport section or read the current home to mainstream school transport policy (pdf)

Children in Infant school (Reception, Year 1 & Year 2) are all offered free school meals, but for any children from year 3 and onwards, they’ll only qualify if they’re in receipt of certain benefits and you’ll still need to apply for them. Nursery children can also access free meals in certain circumstances. For more information, please visit the free school meals webpage.   

Children can access a nursey or a childminder but there may be costs involved. Please see the Family Information Service website for a range of useful information.

People can also access a certain number of hours for free dependent upon their personal circumstances. 

For further information please contact the Family Information Service.

Many local community networking groups are mobilizing across the county. Linking in with your local group is a great way of getting peer-support and finding out about local integration activities. We will add the contact details of more groups as they develop.