Make a difference in Ukraine

Almost six million people have fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion, and another 7.7 million have been displaced within the country. We are working with Citizens UK to resettle Ukrainian refugees in our diocese through the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme - here's how you can help:

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Hosting refugees | Supporting refugees | Why we should help | Prayers & liturgy

If you have any questions, get in touch.


 

I want to offer accommodation

Working with Citizens UK scheme means hosts will have access to their expertise and connections, and as a diocese we're here to support you through the process. The Homes for Ukraine scheme doesn't facilitate matching hosts with Ukrainian refugee individual or family, so if you don't already know people, we will match you with an appropriate family or individual that has been referred to us. It's been amazing to see your generosity - we have around 750 beds on offer currently. If you'd like to become a host, register here.

Hosting a refugee or refugee family is an incredible act of generosity and welcome, but it shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Below are some things to consider before you commit and ways you can prepare yourself, your family and your home for your new guests. You can also watch the diocesan introduction session here.

FAQs for potential hosts
 
Can I go on holiday while I'm hosting? Do I have to live in the property I offer?
Yes, you can go on holiday! How long you're happy to leave your home for is up to you and your guests - though we suggest it shouldn't be for months at a time. Be clear with the refugee(s) you're hosting on how long you'll be away, where they can find support in that time and any expectations you have of them in your house while you're gone. We recommend speaking to your neighbours, church and/or community groups to form a network of support that can be accessed while you're away.

If you're away for several months at a time, you may want to consider offering non-accommodation support instead.

We recommend you only offer accommodation you live in, and do so with no formal agreements in place (i.e. the refugee(s) are your guests). If you do wish to offer accommodation that you don't live in, however, it will need to be documented properly with a formal agreement.

Can I be part of the scheme if I've already matched with a refugee or refugee family?
If you've already matched with a refugee or refugee family, the process of bringing them over can be started straight away through the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme. Go for it!

You can still access support through the diocese and Citizens UK. Register your interest as a host and mention on the form that you're already matched with a family. We can then connect you to local helpers and churches to provide wider support during your time as a host.

What safeguarding measures are in place?
Refugees will be subject to VISA approvals and checks before being moved, and hosts will undergo DBS and home safety checks by local authorities within a month of refugees moving in.

We will be doing our own checks and we'll let you know more about that soon. We'll also make sure you are aware of any safeguarding red flags that you should be looking out for, and our safeguarding team are always on hand.

The guidance is that all adults in the household need DBS checks. If you have older children or other adults who live in your home some of the time, they may also need checks done. We'll let you know when we know more.

What costs are involved?
Citizens UK have committed to transporting refugees from Ukraine, so sponsors do not need to contribute financially to this.

You will receive £350 per month as a host to cover living expenses. You are not obligated to feed any refugees you host - though you are of course most welcome to! We will be able to connect hosts with other local support as needed, which may include things like providing food and toiletries, buying school uniforms etc.

Refugees will receive £200 when they first arrive and are eligible for benefits payments straight away - although these tend to take five weeks to kick in.

If you live alone and receive a single-person discount on your council tax, you may need to check in with your local council about whether this can be retained. West Berkshire have confirmed hosting a refugee will not impact your discount, and we expect other areas to follow suit.

Do I have to live in the Diocese of Oxford or attend church to take part?
You don't have to live in the diocese, we're happy to have you on the scheme if you attend a church in the diocese or have links here. Through these, you'll have access to additional support and resources no matter where you live.

If you live and attend church in a different diocese, you may like to check in with them and see what support they can offer at a local level.

You're also very welcome if you don't attend church - we're grateful for all your help and will still be able to connect you with local resources and helpers.

Why have I not heard anything about matching yet? Can you give me an updated timeline?

Thank you for your patience. Setting up the matching process has taken longer than hoped, but Citizens UK have been working hard to create trustworthy partnerships with organisations working with refugees on the ground. Setting these up and then creating the gateway for refugees to refer themselves through has taken time. The good news is that our first few referrals have come through and matching is beginning.

Unfortunately, we’re unable to provide a specific timeline, as it depends on several factors - connecting with refugees, finding an appropriate host match, and getting visa applications completed and approved. The government are aware some applicants have been waiting for nearly 3 weeks for their application to be processed. They are working to resolve this and speed up the processing of applications.

How will you choose a host to match with a refugee family/individual? Will I definitely get a match?

We are manually matching hosts and refugees and will do our best to make the most appropriate match based on number of individuals in a refugee family/group and number of host rooms available, and refugee preferences for location etc.

Because we want matches to happen as quickly as possible, we are contacting 2/3 potential hosts at once before confirming a match.

When a match is made, we will set up a Zoom call between you and the refugees (with a translator if needed) to meet each other and see whether it looks like the match will work. After this Zoom call, if either party is uncomfortable, we can cancel the match, and connect the refugee family/individual to a new host.

We are so grateful for everyone who has generously offered up their home, but we, unfortunately, cannot guarantee that you will host a refugee family/individual – it will depend on the number and type of referrals we get through. What we can say is that it looks like an increasing number of referrals will be coming through Citizens UK in the next few days. Having you on the list of potential hosts is hugely helpful - a larger list of potential hosts increases the chance of us matching a refugee family/individual appropriately based on their needs. 

There are many other ways to support refugees and we will share with you a few of these options in the future, allowing those of you who aren’t called upon to host a Ukrainian family/individual to support others who desperately need a place of safety and a warm welcome from communities in the UK.

What if I can't offer help straight away?
If you can't offer accommodation until later in the year, stay in touch with us. It may be that there is still a need a few months down the line, or you may be able to offer alternative accommodation if for whatever reason refugees need to move from their current host.
I have contacts in Ukraine but can't host them myself. How can they find a sponsor?
The Ukrainian Sponsorship Pathway can help Ukrainians find a sponsor through Citizens UK, our partner in the resettlement scheme. They also have some helpful resources - like copies of relevant forms in Ukrainian - to help refugees through the process.


Resouces for hosts

Lunch & Learn

Every Friday at 1pm, Citizens UK have a different themed Lunch & Learn with guest speakers.

It’s a place for you to meet with others, get advice on the themes below and ask any questions you may have. Some sessions will be repeated, and a recording of each will also be made available.

The link to join is the same for all sessions, and we recommend all hosts join if you can. Sessions last for one hour. See the schedule of events here.

Support from CCOW

Christian Concern for One World hosted a support session, discussing Ukrainian culture, history and traditions. Listen to the podcast here.

An introduction to supporting the emotional and mental health needs of refugees as hosts

What? This session will...

  • Provide Hosts with an awareness of the emotional and mental health issues associated with trauma
  • Explain some of the signs of distress they might encounter
  • Provide information on how to support your guest as a host
  • Highlight where to find additional support
  • Ensure that hosts have a realistic expectation of what they might experience and how best to support the guest they are helping

When? 16 May, 6-7.30pm

Register now (after registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Other resources
 
Preparing yourself
Preparing your household

You might also like to Google home safety checklists for foster parents in your area - these can give a good idea of things to consider practically when hosting children and vulnerable people.

Visa support
Safeguarding
Transport
  • Eurostar - offering free journeys from any of their Eurostar stations.
  • Once in London, bus, tram, tube, and DLR can be used for free
  • National Rail - free travel across all National Rail train operators, light rail services and the majority of bus and coach services in England, Scotland, and Wales (you will have 48 hours from arrival in the UK to complete your journey)
  • In Oxfordshire – Comet for those who can’t get public transport
Welcome and language support
Translation
Other resources - Healthcare, finances and schools
Babies and children
Healthcare and mental health
Finances
Schools
Sim cards

If you're already matched

If you've already matched with a refugee or refugee family and need help with the visa application, here are some valuable resources:


 

I want to help but I can't offer accommodation

There are loads of other ways you can help - whether it's picking up a family from the airport, helping with paperwork for the GP or local schools, or being a friendly face they can talk to in a difficult time.

If you'd like to help in any way, we would love to hear from you. We can connect you with a local group who are hosting a family so you can give support where it's most needed. Let us know you're interested.

FAQs for supporters
 

How is help being organised?
We are currently in the process of structuring our support network. Each deanery will have a point of contact to disseminate information, co-ordinate local support and liaise with the diocese as needed. We'll let you know soon who your point of contact is - and if you're up for the job, let us know!

We're aiming for every host to have a team of 4-10 people supporting them and their guests with wraparound care.

Are we working with schools?
Although school placements will ultimately fall to local authorities, we are working with ODBE schools advisers to create guidance for families.
When will I be needed as a helper?
We like this suggested timeline from North Devon and Torridge with Ukraine. Sponsors have agreed to host refugees for at least six months, although their visas will be valid for up to three years. Help will be needed at various times throughout that period - initially to help them settle and then to support them as they may wish to find work and schools or move on when their accommodation ends.
What is Community Organising?

Resources for supporters

CCOW are compiling a map of support which can be viewed here. You can register your support here to be added to their map.

Language help
We are building a network of supporters and are particularly interested in connecting with anyone who can speak Ukrainian or Russian. We will then link up translators with refugee families staying nearby.

Google Translate is an excellent tool to help you with basic conversation - and if you donwload the app, it can live translate signs and forms using your camera.

The Open University have some free English courses available online that you could work through with a refugee or refugee family.

Paperwork
Refugees are eligible for benefits, employment and healthcare as soon as they arrive, and any children will also need school placements.

Citizens Advice has some guidance on the various things refugees can apply for, as well as giving an idea of the kind of questions the various forms will ask.

Welcoming
Everyone wants to see a friendly face when they arrive somewhere new - and if you can learn how to say hello in Ukrainian, even better!

You might also like to write a short summary of your village, town or city, explaining the amenities and how to use them, and use Google Translate to help you.

Equip your parish

Check out the Church of England toolkit for parishes looking to respond to the crisis.

Donate money

The Disasters Emergency Committee's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal is the most effective way to help. £30 is enough to provide essential hygiene supplies for three people for one month.

Donate to Unicef to support children in danger because of the crisis.


 

Why should I support a refugee family?

The importance of welcoming the stranger is a thread that runs right through the Christian message. It's heartbreaking watching families desperately seeking safety - but there is something we can do. 

The Revd Alyson Peberdy shares how St Michael and All Angels, Summertown, helped settle a family in need.


 

Prayers & liturgy

Join Christians from across the UK and Ireland in an act of witness as we pray and light candles for Ukraine. You can share your acts of witness on social media using the hashtag #WePrayForUkraine.

A prayer for Ukraine from Churches Together in England:

God of all peoples and nations,
Who created all things alive and breathing,
United and whole,
Show us the way of peace that is your overwhelming presence.
We hold before you the peoples of Ukraine and Russia,
Every child and every adult.
We long for the time
When weapons of war are beaten into ploughshares
When nations no longer lift up sword against nation.
We cry out to you for peace;
Protect those who only desire and deserve to live in security and safety
Comfort those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones
Be with those who are bereaved.
Change the hearts of those set on violence and aggression
And fill leaders with the wisdom that leads to peace.
Kindle again in us a love of our neighbour,
And a passion for justice to prevail
and a renewed recognition that we all play a part in peace.
Creator of all hear our prayer
And bring us peace. Make us whole. Amen.

Other resources
In you, O Lord, I seek refuge

Psalm 31 has become a beacon of hope for those caught up in the atrocities. Watch this poignant video of people across Ukraine reading the Psalm whilst taking shelter.


Page last updated: 16th May 2022 1:26 PM