Ukraine: Supporting Refugees

Ukraine – Supporting Refugees

 

Our churches are working to support those fleeing Ukraine and aiding in providing resources and communication to those who are looking to help Ukranians find places of refuge.

 

We share information from the Church of England and the UN on refugee advice, with the Bishop of Durham the lead for this nationally.  We include the Archbishop of York and Canterbury’s comment on the situation.  In the second part of the article we share practical advice from the UK Government as to what schemes cover supporting Ukranian refugees.  This is a fluid situation so we encourage you to check the UK Government website

 

 

Message from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury

The attack on Ukraine is an act of evil, and we condemn it. The Church calls on all people of goodwill to join in prayer for the people of Ukraine and to work practically to support them in their hour of need. We have been inspired by the warm response from churches and community groups.

Our colleagues have received many questions from individuals and parishes, asking what they can do to help.

In these days of uncertainty and fear, we pray that each of us might again turn to the Lord and receive God’s gift of peace, work for God’s justice, and know God’s reconciliation and love. May we choose paths not of hatred or destruction, violence or retribution, but God’s way of love and justice, mercy and peace. God bless you.

 

Information about Ukraine and the humanitarian situation

The United Nations is preparing for up to seven million internally displaced persons and as many as five million refugees, which would be the largest war-related mass migration since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

Many of these refugees will wish to remain as close as possible to Ukraine or to join with family and friends in states with which they have a connection (particularly Poland and Hungary where there are pre-existing large Ukrainian diaspora).

Nevertheless, we anticipate that many refugees may choose to come to the UK, either due to family or personal ties, because they can speak English (which is a widely spoken second language in Ukraine), or simply because they believe it represents a safe and secure refuge. The vast majority of the refugees who have left Ukraine are women and children, which may pose additional safeguarding concerns.

There are of course many non-Ukrainian nationals who prior to the invasion were living or working in Ukraine. There have been well-established and deeply worrying reports of third country nationals, particularly those from Africa or Asia, being met with discriminatory treatment on the basis of race and not being supported in fleeing Ukraine. The EU Temporary Protection Directive has explicitly stated that third nationals fleeing Ukraine ought to be afforded protection in EU member states, but there are reports this is failing to be followed in a number of states. The UK ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme is only open to Ukrainian nationals or their relatives who were resident in Ukraine before 1 January 2022 (i.e. is not open to third country nationals).

What do Ukranians who are already in the UK require?

 

According to the government ‘Preliminary figures from the 2021 Census in England and Wales identify approximately 37,530 people who were born in Ukraine and were ‘usual residents’ in England and Wales in March 2021.’ Other estimates put the number somewhere between 20 and 50,000 Ukrainian nationals who were in the UK before the war started.

Part of the reason for the variance is that many of these Ukrainians are in the UK on temporary visas, particularly on seasonal worker visas in the agricultural sector, and as students. This will obviously be an incredibly difficult and worrying time for Ukrainians in this country and we encourage churches and individuals to provide pastoral help wherever it is needed.

The government have announced changes to the visa system to help those who are already here and prevent uncertainties about what might happen to them once their visa expires. If you know or work with Ukrainians in this situation, particularly those on skilled or seasonal worker visas or student visas you can direct them to the latest government guidance here. Most Ukrainians ought to be eligible for a free visa extension until at least the 31st December 2022, however, this is subject to meeting terms and conditions attached to the visa.

What immigration routes are available to Ukranian refugees?

Ukraine Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme is open for Ukrainians who had been living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022, and who have family legally settled in the UK.  The family member in the UK must be a British national, legally settled in the UK, an EU national with pre-settled status in the UK, or a refugee or someone with humanitarian leave. It is not available to, for example, family members of those here on a seasonal worker or student visa. The full eligibility details can be found here.

This scheme is open to a broader range of family members than usual family visa routes. The definition of family member for this visa has been expanded to include

 • Parents, adult children, siblings, grandparents, cousins and immediate family not usually eligible.

 It is not available to, for example, family members of those here on a seasonal worker or student visa. The full eligibility details can be found here.  This scheme is currently open and is not capped (i.e. there is no upper limit to how many can come  if they are eligible). The government claim it could be open to as many as 200,000 but this is highly unlikely. At the time of writing around 10,000 applications have been made and around 4000 such visas have been granted. “Homes for Ukraine” Sponsorship Scheme The UK government has announced that the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme will open on the 18/03/2022.

In the short term this will allow individuals and families to commit to sponsoring a Ukrainian individual or family in their home for a period of not less than six months. Ukrainians who arrive on this scheme will be given leave to remain for up to three years and will have full access to the labour market, the NHS and to some benefits (not including housing benefit). Volunteers who sign up will have to commit to sponsoring for at least six months and will not be able to charge for rent, but will be able to receive a thank you payment of £350 a month from the government.

This sponsorship will include what is called in policy making ‘naming’. Naming is a process whereby sponsoring citizens groups can nominate individuals that they know, for example an employee or former colleague, or a person they have identified through a congregation or charity they belong to. This is different from previous UK refugee resettlement programmes which have simply assigned families to community sponsorship programmes. It is still very early in the process, but we are working with partners and charities on different possible approaches to naming that will be able to identify Ukrainian refugees in need who can be sponsored here. If you have no links with Ukraine 5 you can still register with the government supported charity RESET, who have created a portal to match interested Ukrainians to potential sponsors.

Volunteers will have to be vetted, and the Ukrainians will also need to pass security checks. As of Monday 14/03/2022 you can register your interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor on the government website. Please note that this is a registration process designed to gauge the interest and availability of support. It does not commit you to the full scheme

In the short term this will allow individuals and families to commit to sponsoring a Ukrainian individual or family in their home for a period of not less than six months. Ukrainians who arrive on this scheme will be given leave to remain for up to three years and will have full access to the labour market, the NHS and to some benefits (not including housing benefit). Volunteers who sign up will have to commit to sponsoring for at least six months and will not be able to charge for rent, but will be able to receive a thank you payment of £350 a month from the government.

This sponsorship will include what is called in policy making ‘naming’. Naming is a process whereby sponsoring citizens groups can nominate individuals that they know, for example an employee or former colleague, or a person they have identified through a congregation or charity they belong to. This is different from previous UK refugee resettlement programmes which have simply assigned families to community sponsorship programmes. It is still very early in the process, but we are working with partners and charities on different possible approaches to naming that will be able to identify Ukrainian refugees in need who can be sponsored here. If you have no links with Ukraine 5 you can still register with the government supported charity RESET, who have created a portal to match interested Ukrainians to potential sponsors.

Volunteers will have to be vetted, and the Ukrainians will also need to pass security checks. As of Monday 14/03/2022 you can register your interest and volunteer in principle to sponsor on the government website here. Please note that this is a registration process designed to gauge the interest and availability of support. It does not commit you to the full scheme.

All sponsors will need to check any legal, financial and practical restrictions on their property, including in equity release agreements and some mortgages. Again this will need to be updated in the light of forthcoming government guidance, so it is worth continuing to check the government’s information pages. For example, you may need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they’ve got any policies which you need to factor in. Insurers have agreed that for homeowners accommodating Ukrainian Nationals in their home there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that they are accommodated as non-paying guests. Please refer to the Association of British Insurers’ statement for more details.

In other situations, including where the sponsor is a landlord or a tenant, you will need to contact your insurer. Hosts will be required to be vetted and be registered with the Local Authority. Adults in houses where Ukrainians are being sponsored will require DBS checks, and if there are children being sponsored will require enhanced DBS checks. Your Local Authority will also perform checks on the accommodation to ensure it is safe and suitable.

People arriving through the scheme will have been security checked in order to get their visa. If you are interested in these schemes we do encourage you to consider from the outset the best way to engage safely with this scheme.  In time the scheme will be expanded to larger groups and to sponsorship provided by companies, community groups and churches. At the time of writing our church community or community group getting involved in this scheme you are encouraged to register via the Sanctuary Foundation.  This means you will receive updates about the scheme and also sends a message to the Government about the level of support available.

The government have launched their own FAQ on this scheme which provides some useful details for those with further questions.

We will continue to update you as details emerge.

Written by admin

March 27, 2022

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