The enormous amount of interest in hosting Ukrainian refugees is hugely heartening. The people of the UK are kind, generous and compassionate.
Hosting is a significant commitment, and we urge people to properly reflect on their ability to take on such a responsibility.
People seeking sanctuary are just like you. If you had been forced to leave behind your home, family and everything that was familiar, what would you want from a hosting situation? People are individuals, so their support needs will vary considerable.
We want all potential hosts to be able to offer empowering and trauma sensitive support and we will work with partners and our Local Authority network as much as we can to make sure this happens.
Initial guidance has been produced which outlines the role of Local Authorities in England. Additional advice will be published for councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shortly.
We hope to work with partners to produce more detailed information, however we felt it is important that potential hosts start to consider the following:
- Have you checked with your Landlord or Mortgage Provider to ensure you can offer a space?
- Have you checked with your Home Insurance Provider?
- Have you got a spare bedroom that is private to allow people space to grieve and recover? A sofa bed in a living room is not ideal for a person recovering from trauma.
- Are you happy to give a copy of your house key to your guest? Will you be comfortable allowing people access to your home if you go on holiday?
- The minimum commitment is 6 months, but if the person hasn’t found anywhere else to go in that time, would you be able to let them stay? Will you feel comfortable asking your guest to leave? N.B. If the hosting relationship breaks down, your guest will be able to apply for homelessness assistance and social housing, however depending where you are living the availability of temporary accommodation may be limited, and it could take even longer to find permanent housing.
- Will this impact on your council tax, utility bills or rent? N.B. Some local authorities offer a ‘Sanctuary discount’ to ensure hosts do not lose their Single Person Council Tax discount (if they not please do contact us to see if we can advocate for this change)
- Will you be able to provide food and other basics whilst arrivals wait for their benefits claim to be processed? N.B. Local authorities will be providing one off payments to people on arrival but this might not be enough to cover all their immediate needs whilst they wait for benefits.
- Can you afford to pay for their flights to the UK? N.B. At present we do not know if sponsors will have to support Ukrainians to get to the UK and to pick them up from the airport.
- Do you already have links to your local City of Sanctuary group or refugee supporting/advice organisations?
- Do you have the time to support people to register to GPs, dentists, etc.?
- You may host someone who cannot speak English. Can you help someone navigate a new place and new systems without interpretation or translation support?
- Are you comfortable with Social Workers and people visiting your home to do checks?
- Will you feel comfortable living with people who have a very different parenting style or culture?
- Are you happy living with someone who may not have had any covid vaccinations?
- It may take time for the person to find employment or feel comfortable socialising, are you happy for someone to be in your space a lot?
- Have you spoken to your family or children about how they feel about hosting a new person in your home?
- Have you met or supported someone who has complex mental health problems, or with PTSD for example? People suffering from trauma can be very depressed, hopeless and angry. This situation can be difficult and the person may need specialized treatment or support. Sponsors will be provided with no medical history about a guest.
If you don’t think you will be able to offer the levels of support, friendship, patience and privacy that are needed, do not worry – hosting is not for everyone.
There are plenty of ways to help without hosting, click here to find out more.
Cover photo: Refugees at Home
Thanks to Lancashire Refugee Resettlement Programme for enabling us to adapt the information they have produced for the hosts in their area.