Cumbria is gearing up to welcome Ukrainians who are set to arrive in the county as part of the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The scheme provides a way for those fleeing the war to come to the UK, with accommodation being provided by local people offering room in their own homes.
Based on the latest information available, around 100 households in Cumbria have registered with the Government scheme and have offered accommodation to around 150 Ukrainians.
The expectation is that both these numbers may increase.
A small number of Ukrainians have already arrived in Cumbria under the separate Friends and Family scheme.
Councillor Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said:“With millions of people fleeing Ukraine many Cumbrians have been moved to offer space in their own homes to those in need.
“It is no small step to invite strangers to live with you and we, and our partners, will work with you to make this experience as positive as possible for everyone involved.
“The county has well established arrangements for supporting refugees to resettle in the county, so while the way the Government has chosen to manage this is very different to normal, we know how to help and are scaling up our teams to respond.
“There is no doubt however that there are specific challenges with this scheme, not least the uncertainty of how many Ukrainians will eventually arrive and where they will be accommodated.
“Joint working with other agencies and with local groups is going to be so important in ensuring things work out well for guests and sponsors alike.”
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, local sponsors and guests must find each other and make their own arrangements, with no matching service provided by Government or Local Authorities.
Ukrainians arriving will have the right to live and work in the UK for up to three years and will have access to all local services, such as health, education and benefits.
Now agencies in Cumbria are preparing to support the new arrivals, with co-ordination being managed through the county’s existing Multi-Agency Refugee Resettlement Group which is chaired by Cumbria County Council and includes District Councils, NHS organisations, Cumbria Police and local Third Sector representatives.
The countywide group is supported by Local Area Action Groups in each of the county’s six districts.
The county council will have a number of key roles:
- Carrying out Document and Barring Service (DBS) checks on local sponsors.
- Conducting a housing suitability check on premises offered to Ukrainians.
- Carrying out safeguarding checks on sponsors against local databases to establish if there are any known concerns about the household.
- Carrying out home fire safety checks.
- Providing ongoing resettlement support to people arriving and settling here.
- Supporting sponsoring households with advice and guidance.
- Working with the local voluntary and charitable sector to provide practical and financial support.
The council has no role in registering sponsors, or matching sponsors with guests and also has no responsibility for making any checks on guests arriving in the county.
In addition, local agencies will be responsible for ensuring that guests have access to all statutory services, for example registering with a GP, securing a school place for children and accessing welfare benefits if required.
The council will receive £10,500 for each guest, with additional funding for school places.
The council will use the money to fund the resettlement support activity it provides, and support with new costs incurred by other local councils and the work of the local voluntary and charitable sector.
Information for sponsors and guests about the Homes for Ukraine scheme is available at GOV.UK and additional information about local arrangements in Cumbria will soon be available at cumbria.gov.uk/refugees.
People with questions about what is happening locally in Cumbria can also email email@example.com
Meanwhile, donations are being made to Cumbria Community Foundation’s Welcome Fund which will be able to offer support to refugees and groups supporting them settle in the county.
Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Fund, said:”We know that as Ukrainians settle in Cumbria they are going to need a lot of support and the communities and groups offering them homes will need to access funds to help them.
“Over £30,000 has been raised in a few short days since we highlighted the opportunity to donate to the Welcome Fund.
“The people of Cumbria have once again shown their generosity and kindness in a way that will help us be ready to welcome and support Ukrainian refugees as they come to the county.”
The Welcome Fund supports all refugees in Cumbria.
It is open to donations from the public and proceeds from fundraising events, as well as from CCF’s regular donors.
You can donate here: https://cumbriafoundation.enthuse.com/cf/welcome-fund