At the time of writing more than 130,000 people have registered an interest in hosting Ukrainian refugees in the UK.
It is a huge commitment and something you need to look deeply into to ensure you can offer the level of support that is needed. I did a little bit of research to find relevant advice about doing it and wanted to share.
Practical considerations to think about
City of Sanctuary UK have provided this blog on Things to consider before applying to sponsor a refugee .
It runs through information on housing, financial, practical and emotional support and gets you to consider things like:
- Have you checked with your landlord or mortgage provider whether you can take someone on?
- Can you afford the extra utility bills?
- Have you got the capacity to feed your guests before their benefits kick in?
- Do you have time to support them to find a GP, school etc.
- Have you supported someone with multiple complex needs and probably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before?
Try to think from the perspective of what a family will need, rather than what you’d like to offer
I found this thread by @LouCalvey on Twitter really interesting. She is responsible for Refugee & Asylum Service Delivery and Safeguarding and gives her thoughts on real experience of welcoming displaced people.
Thinking of sponsoring a refugee? It’s incredible to see people step forward, we’re used to working in environments that isn’t always welcoming to the people we work with,wonderful to be reminded of people’s kindness.
Try to think from the perspective of what a family will need, rather than what you’d like to offer, or indeed your ‘need to help’. This can be difficult – but it’s crucial to sustaining a healthy relationship & developing independence.
Our Resettlement mantra is to intervene ‘as much as necessary, as little as possible’. Sounds counter intuitive right? Trust me. It’s essential. Refugees are survivors – they are extraordinary ordinary people.
They can do things for themselves – they just need to be shown how, please don’t take over – let people learn and make mistakes (within reason), be patient, but be prepared to step in if people clearly aren’t coping.
Remember they may be traumatised, shocked & probably a bit nervous. Don’t place expectations on them. Please don’t post photos of them on social media after they arrive–they’re not your new family pet. Even if they consent–until they know you it’s not fully informed.
Remember they may be grateful to you, and that can give rise to politeness. Don’t rely on their consent or agreement and take it at face value – it may be given out of gratitude. But don’t expect gratitude. If you don’t already know learn a little re trauma informed approaches.
Think about your home, and the community you’re part of. What type of people would this suit? What’s your local support organisations? Some examples-Are you from a strong LGBT community, or do you have experience with children with Diverse Learning Needs?
Think about what you can offer – what size living accom? What school, GP’s places locally are like? Community linkage? If you have a family in mind – what links to the UK do they have and how can you help them to easily reconnect? DO NOT RELY ON GOV PROCESS AROUND THIS.
Think about what the family want to achieve with their life in the UK and whether you’re the right person to help them. Finally (for now) start from the perspective of ending. What’s the family’s route to independence and how do they need you to behave to achieve that?
Plan access to proper language resources! And remember to support your interpreter too – it may well be triggering or especially traumatising for them.
It’s very much OK for you to want to help but not feel able or ready to open your home. Don’t feel guilty on this. It’s a BIG step. Do it wisely. There are other ways to help.
Also be mindful people have lost family, homes, plucked out of their everyday life. They’ll be shocked & exhausted #HomesForUkraine isn’t about providing a bed for 6 months, it’s about helping people with their start here – it’s about people recovering & rebuilding.
Articles on people’s experience on hosting refugees
This article in Yorkshire Live talks about the joy Nicola David from Ripon has through hosting a refugee – The reality of hosting a refugee – from cooking together to watching the apprentice.
Helen Pidd, the Northern Editor of the Guardian describes her experience of hosting a refugee too.
One family in Kent’s experience of inviting a Ukrainian family into their home
Hosting and support in York
In York, the York City of Sanctuary is working with the Council to find both hosts and offer support to Ukrainians.
Here are their details on hosting and befriending Ukrainians in York including how to sign up.
Here is their Statement of Support for the people of Ukraine
Following York City of Sanctuary on Twitter is a good way of keeping up to date with how you can support Ukrainian refugees, and refugees from other countries, in York.
Ukraine take Shelter – Finding a Ukrainian to host yourself
Avi Schiffmann and Marco Burstein, students at Harvard, in just three days have developed and launched Ukraine Take Shelter, a website in 12 languages where Ukrainian refugees fleeing war can immediately find hosts with free rooms, apartments unused in resorts, big or small cities or school dorms.
You can register to host on here, and also pass this information to Ukrainians to register their accommodation needs.