Wiltshire Council says it is ready and has plans in place as Ukrainian families start to be matched with people offering up their homes in the county.
The council is aware of 136 Wiltshire households who are offering homes through sponsorship to Ukrainian refugees and around 1,500 who have applied through the Government website after the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched. The number is reported to be growing every day.
The system to settle in the UK involves a series of steps, including government checks on those arriving from Ukraine before they can travel to their accommodation.
The government has given local authorities a key role in helping refugees settle.
In response, Wiltshire Council says it has staff ready to carry out accommodation and safeguarding checks and also to liaise with schools and other services.
The council is putting in place caseworkers and working on payment mechanisms for sponsors and emergency support for new arrivals. It is also working closely with partners in the NHS, Department for Work and Pensions and town and parish councils.
There is also ongoing work with voluntary groups and charities, who are helping to coordinate responses and ways to ensure when families arrive they have the support they need and feel truly welcome.
Wiltshire Youth Council which was set up this year with 41 candidates representing young people across the county, has written to all schools asking them to take part in a non-uniform day on 1st April 2022 and encourages pupils to wear blue and yellow for a minimum donation of £1 to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Appeal.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said, “We know people throughout Wiltshire are ready to provide a helping hand to Ukrainian refugees – that could be by providing a place for a family to stay or donating to a good cause. I want to thank communities across the county also for joining together and being ready to provide support when it is needed.
“Along with our partners, we have put plans in place to support people who are choosing to come to Wiltshire. Wiltshire Council staff are working hard behind the scenes and a number of accommodation checks have already taken place in preparation for families arriving. The system is complex and there is still more information and guidance needed from government, but we are doing everything we can to be ready so once families arrive they will settle well and will soon feel at home.”
The government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme offers a route to those who want to come to the UK and who have someone willing to provide them with a home. Individuals, charities, community groups and businesses can volunteer accommodation.
Sponsors can provide accommodation for as long as they are able, but there is a minimum expectation of six months. Those arriving need to meet standard security checks. Sponsors and all adults in the sponsoring households will also be subject to security checks and may also be subject to safeguarding checks.
People interested can record their interests here to receive updates and more information on how to apply.
Sponsors can be of any nationality, with any immigration status, provided they have at least six months’ leave to remain within the UK. In the first phase of the scheme, sponsors will need to have a named person whom they wish to sponsor. This could be a friend, someone they are already connected with or it could be someone they have been linked with by a charity, faith group or other organisation. Sponsors need to provide accommodation for a minimum of six months. The government will provide an optional payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months for those offering accommodation.