Ukraine Hosts FAQs
How do I become a host and what would be involved?
We delivered a Zoom session in April aimed at people who were considering hosting. The session was recorded and you can watch it back here: https://youtu.be/6bgL8rBsEBY
We cover things to think about if you are becoming a host and what is available locally to support you. This is mostly relevant to Horsham but also West Sussex in general.
Some other links that might be helpful for you if you are thinking of hosting a family:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n-Wmru5LIA – a session similar to ours but on a national scale, run by Reset
https://www.oakwoodtraining.co.uk/ukraine-crisis-supporting-your-people/ – training videos about supporting your guests with trauma
Our website has a number of FAQs which may be helpful to read through and this includes a document from WSCC sent to all hosts.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1071536/Ukraine_Welcome_Guidance_April_2022.pdf – the Ukraine Welcome Guidance document which the government are giving to Ukrainian arrivals, and is very useful to read if you are hosting.
In terms of the pathway to hosting, you would need to register with the government scheme at https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine – however you will only be able to complete this process (at the current time) if you know the name of the person you wish to host. You may find there are people in your locality who have family, friends or colleagues that they are trying to find hosts for and you could connect with them. Some local churches in our area have made lists of people and hosts and have done some matching. Some Ukrainian people looking for hosts have been posting on social media, but this method clearly requires caution. Many hosts we have spoken to have started with a videocall with the Ukrainian person they have found, to meet them and tell them about their home while finding out more about them and what they are looking for in terms of area, number of bedrooms needed, whether they have pets etc.
You can also try these two national websites to find a match:
www.homesforukraine.org.uk run by the UK charity Reset
I’m a host and I’m feeling overwhelmed! Help!
We are hearing this a lot from hosts right now. In our experience, it’s always tough at the beginning and then things begin to settle down. There are a lot of admin tasks but try to tackle one thing at a time, even though your guests will be worrying about everything at once.
Come to our drop-in for some support with the bureaucracy and a chat with a volunteer who understands what you’re going through. Our drop-in sessions for Ukrainian refugees and hosts are on Mondays 10-12 at the Christian Life Centre and on Fridays 10-12 at London Road Methodist Church.
Are my guests entitled to…? (a free laptop, free clothing, vouchers…)
You may have heard other hosts or refugees talking about their experiences and wonder if your guest should have the same. Some people are applying to the WSCC Community Fund for extra help. The Community Fund is available to support Ukrainian refugees in emergencies. This hardship fund is also for other local people in crisis so it should be used when desperate. They have been able to provide e.g. food vouchers if prepaid cards haven’t arrived in time, or clothing vouchers if refugees arrive with nothing.
The WSCC Refugee Resettlement Team can give free SIM cards and bus passes, but you’ll need to ask for them. Email Ukrainesupport@westsussex.gov.uk
WSCC have a limited number of laptops available and are prioritising these for school-age children who need them for studying – we assume secondary school students first. People on Universal Credit can get slightly cheaper, reconditioned laptops at https://www.getonlineathome.org/ If a laptop is needed for a specific reason e.g. a particular job or course, we may be able to help you apply for a grant, but this does take time.
There are some things available for everyone – try Boden for free children’s clothing for Ukrainians, Halfords for free servicing of bikes, Pavillions for three months free membership, the National Trust for a year’s free membership.
Do you have a link address to the Community Hub at WSCC?
I have heard that Ukrainian refugees are looking for bicycles. I have a ladies bike. Would you like it?
Yes – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please can we have a one-to-one meeting with someone about supporting our guest?
We cannot provide this due to the numbers of people arriving but we can offer a one-to-one meeting with you at our drop-in sessions.
Our drop-in sessions for Ukrainian refugees and hosts are on Mondays 10-12 at the Christian Life Centre and on Fridays 10-12 at London Road Methodist Church.
Can you offer any support with learning English?
St Mary’s Horsham are holding English classes for Ukrainians on Tuesdays 10.30-12.30 in the Barn on the Causeway.
There is also a Conversation Café at the Christian Life Centre on Thursdays.
What should I do if I believe a refugee is being abused?
If you suspect abuse by a host family, follow these steps:
If someone is in immediate danger call 999.
To speak to someone and report concerns please call 01243 642121.
Or if you prefer you can complete an online form: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/social-care-support/adults/raise-a-concern-about-an-adult/
To speak to someone and report concerns please call 01403 229900.
Or if you prefer you can complete an online form: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/education-children-and-families/keeping-children-safe/raise-a-concern-about-a-child/
These are the normal lines of reporting for any concern for adults or children. We have not heard that WSCC are setting up a specific support for the refugee situation regarding reporting of abuse.
If the host family gives the £350 per month to the refugee family, will it be deducted from Universal Credit?
The £350 per month is a ‘thank you’ to the hosts and is not considered income. However, if the money is passed on directly to the refugee it must be shown as additional income and YES, it could affect any benefits the refugee is entitled to.
In the same way we believe that if a host ‘pays’ their guest for ‘work’ eg cleaning, cutting the lawn etc this will also need to be declared as income.
We do not believe that one off payments, such as £50 for a birthday gift, would need to be declared.
Frequently Asked Questions – general
We’ve signed up on the government website to offer a room but are you linking people or families together?
No – our experience is in working with people once they are here and supporting with integration, and we will gladly do all we can to support you as hosts and your refugee guests once they arrive.
If you are looking for someone to link with, you can try these two national websites:
www.homesforukraine.org.uk run by the UK charity Reset
There are also some local groups and people who are doing a small amount of matching, as well as social media sites. You could try to find refugee guests through one of these:
www.facebook.com/groups/horshamrefugeesupportgroup HRSG’s Facebook group, where some locals have been posting about people they know who are looking for hosts
www.facebook.com/groups/681290006394537 Ukrainians in the Horsham Area Facebook group
www.stmaryshorsham.org.uk St Mary’s Church are matching small numbers of hosts and refugee guests
There are small groups setting up in rural areas, including Billingshurst (see billingshurstforukraine.org.uk), Thakeham, West Chiltington, Storrington, Ashington and Steyning.
I have self-contained accommodation available if you can use it?
Along with the Ukrainian people coming in on the host scheme, there are still a number of Afghan refugee families awaiting housing, following the crisis there six months ago.
The West Sussex County Council Refugee Resettlement Team would be delighted to hear from you if you can provide the accommodation that they are looking for.
You can find out about the requirements and contact details at this link: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/leisure-recreation-and-community/supporting-local-communities/refugee-resettlement-in-west-sussex/#information-for-prospective-landlords
Can I volunteer with you?
We are opening recruitment now (April 2022) so please get in contact to be included. We are looking to expand our team of volunteers who work with local Syrian and Afghan refugees in befriending and English teaching roles, as well as preparing a team ready to support newly arriving Ukrainian refugees through our drop-in sessions and other needs as they arise.
We work with vulnerable people, so the application process takes time to complete but it is very rewarding work. The process begins with your attendance at a meeting or a phone call about our group and the volunteer roles available. If you’re still interested in joining us, you complete our application form, references and DBS check, followed by safeguarding training and our induction course, before you start your role with a volunteer partner.
I have a few items of furniture that I would like to donate if they are suitable and can be collected.
HRSG mainly works with families who are resettled here under government schemes. Under these schemes, they are provided with a ‘package’ of furniture on arrival which is the same for everyone, or they are staying with hosts who have already equipped the appropriate rooms with furniture.
We don’t have the transport or storage space available to take large items of furniture, but we do recommend Horsham Matters who may be able to take your donation and use it to support other vulnerable people in the area.
I have some… (coats, clothing, pillows, duvets) – would you like these for refugees?
HRSG mainly works with families who are resettled here under government schemes, who are provided with basic household items on arrival. We then come alongside the families and try to provide anything else they might need to support them in resettling here. We ask for these items via our newsletter list and Facebook group, so do join this to be informed about future requests.
We are now also starting to hear from hosts of Ukrainian refugees, who may also need things while they stay here. Many hosts are getting support from their immediate friends, family and community for items, but we can also support with sourcing things. Again, we will use our newsletter list and Facebook group to ask the community for these.
Our most common request at present is bikes – we can always accept good condition bicycles and pass them on to refugees who need transport.
We don’t have the storage space available to store things that might be useful for a refugee in the future, but we do recommend Horsham Matters who may be able to take your donation and use it to support other vulnerable people in the area.
We have set up a group in our village to help support Ukrainian refugees. Can we support each other?
Yes! That is absolutely what HRSG is here for – please do keep in contact with us and we will help you along the way. We have experienced volunteers who may be able to come along and support you, and we can join together for training sessions. We’re working with HDC’s Volunteering Team to look at putting on networking events to get to know one another and share experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions – from hosts
I’ve completed my application but haven’t hear anything. Do you think I should start again?
We’d recommend you try to chase the status of your application rather than starting again. You can try using a reference number and chasing with the Home Office, or other people have had success with asking their local MP to chase the visa application with the Home Office on their behalf.
We have Ukrainians staying with us and I would like to be able to put them in touch with other Ukrainians in the area – are you aware of any?
We are in touch with a few local Ukrainian people who have been here a long time and are keen to connect with your refugee guests to welcome them and speak in their home language (both Ukrainian and Russian). Please get in touch with us to be linked.
We are also hosting drop-in sessions for Ukrainian refugees to meet up, on Mondays 10-12 at the Christian Life Centre and on Fridays 10-12 at London Road Methodist Church.
St Mary’s Horsham are holding English classes for Ukrainians on Tuesdays 10.30-12.30 in the Barn on the Causeway. They are also holding drop-in sessions for families with children and teenagers on Fridays 3.15-5 in the barn on Causeway.
I know that my guests will receive a prepaid card on arrival with £200 per person. Is that £200 per adult person or does it include children?
That also includes children. The money will be on one card and given to the adult, but there will be £200 of money per individual. This is particularly helpful for food, clothing and immediate needs in the first few weeks.
I’ve just been reading about the various forms which have to be completed to claim for benefits, apply for the Biometric Residence Permit and open a bank account etc. Could you tell me which is the best order in which to apply for things so we can get the most done in the shortest length of time?
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Bank Account
- Child Benefit
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
The UC application is the most important because there is a 5-week wait before any money starts being paid and this is not back-dated. Some people open a bank account first, which is logical, but if there are complications there, you can start the UC application without a bank account and add the details when you have them, since there will be a 5-week wait before payments begin.
We understand there is a backlog of BRP applications and people are being advised that they are delayed. Ukrainians can use their passports and Visa paperwork as proof of identity and status so there isn’t an urgency for a BRP. The Home Office will be in touch with Ukrainians about BRPs in due course.
My guests don’t have proof of address because they are staying with me. How do we open a bank account and open a Universal Credit claim?
We’ve heard that banks are taking passports/Visa paperwork and host confirmation for proof of identity and address.
If this isn’t the case, the WSCC Refugee Resettlement Team can write a formal letter to confirm that your guests are confirmed as staying with you – if you need that letter, email Ukrainesupport@westsussex.gov.uk
Did I understand correctly that after 6 months they have to apply for a biometric residence card? Does that apply to everyone coming over or just certain visas?
Yes, all refugees we work with have Biometric Residence Permits (BRP cards). This is usually issued on arrival since many of them have no form of ID with them.
For the Ukrainian schemes, refugees are arriving with their passports. Their passports are being stamped and this stamp is their proof of refugee status for the first six months. After six months, the ID will be the BRP card, so essentially it means they have six months to apply for one if they will continue to stay here.
The Home Office will send your Ukrainian guest more information about the BRP application after arrival. We recommend you get it done asap, and then you can wait for it to arrive without any panic about time limits.
Do my guests need to register with the GP immediately or wait until needed?
It’s better to register with your local GP as soon as possible, so that your guests can get an appointment if anything arises. Your GP will probably give them an initial appointment anyway as part of the registration, to check how things are and whether there is anything they need for previous medical needs or mental health needs.
We live a rural area with no immediate access to transport. We have one car which we could not share with a guest, we could give lifts however, is this going to be a problem?
It’s worth discussing this with your refugee guest before starting the visa application. Some people have been very clear that they don’t want to live in a rural area, others have been very keen – everyone is different.
The refugees we already work with are rarely placed in rural areas because transport is difficult, but hosts can help overcome that barrier. You’ll need to think about what the boundaries are for you regarding transport and problem-solve other ways to get around. Depending where you are, perhaps a bicycle is appropriate to get to a bus stop, or there may be local people, friends or family known to you who may also offer lifts.
There are many local transport schemes run by volunteers in Horsham District. You can find out more about this from Horsham District Council’s Voluntary Sector Support team – contact Liz.Burt@horsham.gov.uk
What can my refugee guests do during the day?
It’s definitely a good idea to help your refugee guests to establish a routine and some things to do during the day, especially since they will have experienced trauma.
Some people will be arriving with jobs and will be working from home. Others may have small children, so look out for local toddler groups and parks that you can signpost them to. If they arrive without a job but could work, help them to search for work using the government jobs website or Indeed.
If they have very little English and working will be difficult, there are still things they can do to keep a routine and keep active. Walking, cycling and other forms of exercise are recommended for stress so think about how you can help with that. Most areas have Healthy Walks for locals to join if you are working and can’t go out with your guests, or you could introduce them to the local leisure centre.
HRSG are hosting drop-in sessions for Ukrainian refugees to meet up (and hosts to ask questions), on Mondays 10-12 at the Christian Life Centre and on Fridays 10-12 at London Road Methodist Church. Just turn up – all welcome!
St Mary’s Horsham are holding English classes for Ukrainians on Tuesdays 10.30-12.30 in the Bethany building at the back of St Mary’s Church. They are also holding drop-in sessions for families with children and teenagers on Fridays 3.15-5 in the barn on Causeway. Christian Life Centre have an English Conversation Club on Thursday afternoons. You can contact these churches for more information about these groups.
Look out for other local community cafes and drop-in sessions to go along and meet people, or perhaps some volunteering sorting donations at Horsham Matters or helping maintain local parks with Green Gym. Horsham District Council’s Voluntary Sector Support team can help with information on local community groups and volunteering opportunities – contact email@example.com
Have you made applications for the Vodafone scheme which provides paid up sim cards for Ukrainians? It is only available via refugee support organisations.
HRSG has not done this as we are not a registered charity with the Charities Commission. However, other local charities have done, and you can liaise with them: contact Emma at Horsham Matters or Lisa at St Mary’s Church. We are also aware that many other networks are offering similar schemes to any Ukrainians, so it’s worth looking around.
Our refugee works for a Ukrainian gov dept via her laptop. To my mind that stops her being eligible for UC but allows her the £200 cash-card?
Yes, the £200 (per person) pre-paid cards from the Home Office are for everyone – part of the welcome so people can buy things they need after arrival.
The eligibility for Universal Credit (UC) will be related to how much the person earns. You can work while receiving UC, but they reduce the amount they give you based on what you are earning – the payment will go down by 55p for every £1 you earn.
If your refugee guest works part time or has a low income, they may still be eligible for UC. They may also be eligible for a work allowance before the payment reduces, e.g. if they have dependents with them or a disability. It’s worth exploring this further with your refugee guest and the Job Centre.
Do the refugees have to be hosted in West Sussex to access these services? Can our friends in Cranleigh also access drop ins etc?
We are very happy to welcome any local Ukrainians to our drop-in sessions – all are welcome! However please be aware that the advice we give hosts and refugees may not apply to you, depending on how your local council is running the scheme, and we are less likely to have the local contacts you might need in your area.
TV news. Should we not allow this to be watched as too distressing?
We understand your concerns, but remember that these are adults and can make their own decisions. You may like to check with your guest about how they feel before you put the news on in the same room. Some may not want to watch and others may want to watch continuously – try to respect their decisions.
Can we access Ukrainian TV easily?
We’ve heard you can! Your guests will probably have a good idea about how to do that, and we can put you in touch with local Ukrainian people who have lived here for years, who might be able to advise them. One host recommends: https://zattoo.com/int/ukrainian-tv