Monday, December 5th, 2022

Charity helping Ukrainians find UK hosts to scale back work | Ukraine

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A leading charity which has been helping the government with rematching Ukrainian refugees with UK hosts after initial placements end or break down, is to scale back its work because they say the scheme is unworkable.

Refugees at Home is one of five voluntary and community organisations listed as “recognised providers” on the gov.uk website to help match and rematch Ukrainian refugees with UK hosts.

Hosting arrangements are for a minimum of six months and many are now coming to an end after the scheme opened in March of this year. As fewer UK hosts are now coming forward, rematching requests from Ukrainians are increasing.

Many Ukrainian households have become homeless – around one third of them in London. According to government figures from 24 February 2022 until 26 August 2022 1,565 Ukrainian households were registered as homeless by councils.

Refugees At Home said: “We are extremely sorry that Refugees at Home is unable to help with any rematching requests under the Homes for Ukraine scheme for placements not originally made through Refugees at Home.”

The statement adds: “This is due to the conditions and requirements of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”

“As well as hosts and guests we have been approached by a number of local authorities who have asked us to support them in making these rematches. Regrettably we are unable to do so because of the complexities surrounding the current scheme.”

The Local Government Association has also expressed concern about the housing situation for Ukrainian refugees. Its chair, Cllr James Jamieson, said that councils, Ukrainians and hosts need ‘certainty’ about next steps.

“There are concerns that more Ukrainian families may need to present as homeless as a result of a lack of sponsors or other options,” he said. “As the number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless continues to gradually rise alongside the cost-of-living crisis, support to sponsors may need to be enhanced to encourage new or existing hosts to sponsor in the longer term as inflation and energy costs increase,” he said.

Robina Qureshi, CEO of Positive Action In Housing, which has matched more than 350 Ukrainian individuals with hosts in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, said there were “layers upon layers of chaos” in the government hosting scheme along with a lack of strategy.

“NGOs are doing what we can based on our own expertise but we are watching a ticking timebomb,” she said.

Sara Nathan, co-founder of Refugees at Home, said that the charity’s work for initial matches between Ukrainians and UK hosts would continue but it would only work on rematching requests from Ukrainian refugees they had made initial hosting placement for. All other rematching requests are now being turned down.

In September the charity turned down 60 rematching requests: “We are concerned there doesn’t seem to be a move on strategy. We have found it very difficult to help with rematching. It’s just too bureaucratic and there’s no mechanism for one local authority to talk to another about this. There needs to be a policy to sort this out. We can’t expect local authorities to do it,” Nathan said.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been approached for comment.

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