Supporting and sponsoring Ukrainian refugees in the UK
In March 2022, following the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Diocese immediately responded by offering support to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war. A scheme was set up to match potential hosts with Ukrainians to provide safe accommodation here in the UK until it is feasible for Ukrainians to return home. Following a generous grant from Herefordshire Council, Awards for All and Citizens UK, we are now able to offer even more support to those local communities who have responded so generously to this crisis. There is so much more that we could be doing, and the grant will allow us to carry on improving what we offer by way of support, information and resources.
But what can you do to help?
How can our parish support refugees?
The UK Government launched a website to register interest either as an individual or organisation found here for anyone wishing to offer their home or a house for people from Ukraine. We have already been able to offer accommodation to 250 families fleeing the war in Ukraine, including 110 children, but more help is needed. Ways to help include:
- Consider hosting a family or person from Ukraine, or if you are unable to host yourself, please help us to identify potential accommodation or hosts.
- By providing a warm welcome and ongoing support, working with the hubs and local people to support the Ukrainians when they arrive here.
- By donating generously to local hubs enabling them to support Ukrainians with clothing, furniture, toys etc..
Many people across the Diocese of Hereford have already generously offered their homes to host people from Ukraine. Along with many other dioceses across the Church of England we have partnered with Citizens UK because they have a long track record of supporting communities who welcome refugees. Because the Government scheme requires potential hosts to know of someone in Ukraine who wants to come to them, we are able to support this matching process. Simply registering on the Government portal does not lead to a link to someone who wishes to take up your offer, and this is where we come in. By partnering with Citizens UK we are able to offer a more 'active' matching process. We are identifying hosts across the Diocese and working with Citizens UK to connect hosts with refugees seeking a sponsor.
Since March 2022, we have also worked with a network of local co-ordinators across Herefordshire and South Shropshire. These hubs are run by amazing volunteers, who are supporting Ukrainians who come to live in their communities by providing information, social opportunities, access to English As A Second Language classes and counselling where needed. If you do decide to host someone from Ukraine, you will receive lots of support and guidance from a local hub co-ordinator – someone who lives in your area. If you would like to know more about the local group in your area, please email us and we will put you in touch.
Our ambition is to gather clusters of offers in an area. We will link people up to support one another (if you are not already linked up, we know of several groups that already exist). If you are already co-ordinating a community response in your area, please get in touch by email to let us know as a more collective approach should strengthen us all.
This offer is open to all who wish to offer accommodation, whether they attend church or not.
If you are interested in becoming a host or would simply like to know more, please email HomesForUkraine@hereford.anglican.org and someone will get back to you.
If you have already identified someone in Ukraine but would like support with form-filling, travel, support once people arrive, etc. it is worth noting that Citizens UK is working closely with the Sanctuary Foundation, who have set up an online portal for matching hosts to people in Ukraine. Although Citizens UK plans to use the connections and opportunities they are developing to help us identify Ukrainian refugees through a separate route, you are welcome to register directly with the Sanctuary Foundation. This charity can also match you with a group or individual refugee, but please do keep in touch for support once you have been matched.
Who can I contact for help?
Please get in touch with us via email.
You can also contact your local coordinator where you have one (email us to find out if you have a coordinator in your area). We are asking individuals and Churches not to go directly to Citizens UK as we are seeking to build a single approach across the Diocese, where we support one another and all refugees who come to us. It is also essential for the Citizens UK approach to work that we work together and they are focussing their efforts on developing the contacts and matches in Ukraine.
What resources are available
There are a number or organisations who have created useful resources to help you through any of the processes around hosting a Ukrainian.
The Church of England - has published a ‘toolkit’ of resources for parishes seeking to help refugees and evacuees from Ukraine.
There are also a number of excellent resources available for people who are either hosting or supporting a hub and its activities from the following organisations:
St Peter and St James – who are doing excellent work in Hereford City, working with hosts and Ukrainian guests.
We will try to keep resources up to date and to share with as many in the network as possible.
And finally, we offer a message of prayer, support and solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters – and for all those across our diocesan community who are concerned for the country, and for their relatives and friends.
Where can I donate?
The Diocese in Europe has launched an appeal with the USPG for humanitarian aid both in Ukraine and with Refugees across Europe. Funds raised by the appeal will support Christian charities and churches and agencies carrying out humanitarian work both in Ukraine and organisations responding to the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries.
The ongoing crisis is expected to impact many of us in our day to day lives as we see food, fuel and other commodities rise in price as supply chains are impacted by sanctions and production disrupted by the war. Whilst many of us seek to respond in kind by offering to donate items of clothing and other essential items, the Diocese of Europe, charities, and Christian organisations are seeking to encourage the public to donate financially via official channels such as The British Red Cross, DEC Disaster Emergencies Committee and UNICEF.