Deciding to Become a Sponsor
- Read the conditions for becoming a sponsor under the government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme
Homes for Ukraine: sponsor guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
As a minimum, you should ensure that sponsors and guests review the government guidance and FAQs below:
You can find further guidance on hosting from the below organisations:
- Reset’s sponsor toolkit
- Refugees at Home Host and sponsor resources
- The No Accommodation Network’s guidance on ‘hosting good practice’ and key considerations for prospective hosts
- City of Sanctuary’s ‘Things to consider before applying to be a sponsor’
- VITA Network’s guidance for hosts and refugees
- You need to commit to providing suitable, safe accommodation for at least six months. Ukrainian refugees who have a Biometric passport, are eligible to remain in the UK for up to three years.
- Sponsors cannot charge rent or for utilities but can apply for a ‘Thank You’ payment from the East Sussex County Council. Currently ESCC are paying hosts £500 for the first month and £350 for the following months. This will be paid in arrears and only for the first 12 months.
- Sponsors are not required to provide food for their Ukrainian guests but are welcome to do so. Many sponsors and guests share food costs appropriately.
Things to Consider
Does everyone in your household agree to becoming a sponsoring household?
Who will fit into your household and lifestyle best in terms of: age, stage of life, habits etc…
Do you have enough room?
- It is expected that all refugees you sponsor will have or share (appropriately) a secure, decent room and will have access to other rooms such as bathrooms, eating areas and kitchen and cooking facilities.
- Will your guests be able to share space in the fridge, kitchen, bathrooms, closets etc…?
- Does your home have good internet access? Refugees will need this to communicate with friends and relatives, access government sites, apply for Universal Credit and bank accounts etc…
- Students will need a suitable quiet space and a desk/table to be able to start and continue studies. Most Ukrainians will want learn and improve their English skills.
Do you have enough time?
- Many Ukrainian people will have experienced things few of us can imagine. They will need time and support to adjust and continue their lives here in the UK.
- https://lewes4ukraine.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/UK-Gov-Ukraine_Welcome_Guidance.pdf is very helpful.
- Although many official forms are now in Ukrainian as well as English, your guests will almost certainly need help with essential tasks such as: applying for bank accounts and Universal Credit, joining a Dentist practice and Doctors’ surgery, registering with a school etc…
What’s in your area?
- Are there good bus and train services nearby?
- How close are school and higher education establishment?
- Is there a range of English language courses nearby?
- How close are food and other shops, municipal leisure centres, sports facilities, social clubs etc…
- Is there a local group supporting Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors? Are there any societies or groups where Ukrainian people can meet up?
Connecting with Ukrainian refugees looking to come to the UK
- Firstly, register as a prospective sponsor on the government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme this is essential for the visa process and for you and your guest to access the government benefits available when they come to the UK.
- The British government does not match prospective sponsors with refugees so you need to register and one of the many available websites and Facebook pages such as: Sunflower Sisters and Lewes Helps Ukraine.
Deciding Who to Sponsor
- When you register as a sponsor, you will receive very many requests. This can be overwhelming. Don’t feel bad about refusing requests; you can’t help everyone but you are making a life-changing decision for those you do sponsor.
- Only engage with a persons or persons that you feel will be suitable to join your household.
- If you are contacted by someone you feel is unsuitable, politely refuse and wish then good luck; you will generally receive a very polite response.
- ‘Meet’ your sponsees on-line on platforms such as: Skype and WhatsApp, so you can start getting to know each other. Remember you can refuse to sponsor someone at any time before you complete visa applications. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to stop the process early.
- Make it clear what your sponsee can expect when they arrive at your house.
- Take them on a virtual tour of your home- show them their accommodation.
- Are there any house rules?
- Are you willing to do some child minding in exchange for some other help?
- Will you be able to offer transportation, especially in the early days?
- How will the food bills be settled? You are not expected to provide food. Many people do provide their guest with food at least until the benefit monies come through but you are not required to do this.
Applying for a Visa
- When you have decided on whom you will sponsor, read the visa application question in English and Ukrainian on this website at https://lewes4ukraine.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Homes-for-Ukraine-Visa-Questions-in-Ukranian-and-English.pdf and send copies to your sponsees. The visa application has to be filled out in one sitting, so you will both know what documents you need to have ready
- We suggest that both parties work together in real time, on WhatsApp or similar, with the sponsor filling in the form.
- You will receive a reference number when the visa application if complete. Print the papers out and keep them safe.
- Then you wait. Currently in July 2022, the visa process seems to be taking one to two weeks.
- Whoever has submitted the visa application will be informed when the application is successful. The ‘permission to travel’ letter needs to be shared with the other party so travel arrangements can be made.
- Currently, all bus and train services in Europe are free to anyone with a Ukrainian Local Identity Paper or a Ukrainian International Passport. Eurostar is free to those with a permission to travel letter and a Ukrainian International Passport.
- When the guest arrives at a UK border with a permission to travel letter and their Ukrainian International Passport, a visa will be stamped in their passport and they can enter the UK.
- Bus and train travel with in the UK will be free for 48 hours after arrival in the UK.
- In the first days be prepared that your guest(s) may not be willing or able to share their recent experiences right away or ever.
- As the airports and trains are unusable, most people will have travelled out of Ukraine by bus or car. This could mean they have travelled for a few days and will need time to recuperate.
- Give them space to settle and orient themselves and any children to their surroundings
- Have simple, nourishing meals ready. If you can, have brown (roasted) buckwheat on hand. This can be found in Polish shops in Brighton and many health stores. It’s a very popular, nourishing staple and tasted great.
- Ukrainian people LOVE tea- any kind: regular builders’, Earl Grey and lots of different herb teas. Children also drink ordinary and herb teas.
- It is essential for your guest to open a bank account as soon as possible as they need one to receive benefit payments.
- The quickest way to open an account is through the on-line bank Monzo. Their banks cards arrive in 3-4 days usually. Many High Street banks have a shortened application process for Ukrainian refugees. Both parties will need ID such as a passport and you will need proof of your address.
- Each refugee settling in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, is eligible for a £200 immediate cash payment If your new guest requires a Red Cross Sim card, contact Ann Janes on Lewes Helps Ukraine Facebook page if you live in Lewes and surrounding villages In order for guests to get the £200 welcome payment their host needs to register their arrival with ESCC on the link below.
Then the local authority will be in touch and the guests will receive a text with a code on it that they must take to a post office in order to collect their payments.
For any queries or delayed payments please contact the ESCC Ukraine hotline on 01323 724748
- To start the benefit process, your guests will need to fill in a Universal Credit application form on-line at: Universal Credit: How to claim – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) An appointment time will be sent to your guest. If this time is not convenient, it can be changed on-line. Applying will generate National Insurance numbers, which are needed when they register at a GP’s surgery or with an NHS Dentist. Your guests will probably be unfamiliar with our benefit system’s rules and expectation. Be prepared to make sure they read and fill in their on-line Universal Credit Journal at least two to three times a week. Failure to do this could lead to benefits being withdrawn and a lengthy wait for them to be reinstated.
Registering at a Doctor’s Surgery and a Dental Practice
- In the Lewes area, Ukrainians need to register at the Foundry Health Care Lewes at: www.foundryhealthcarelewes.co.uk. Then go to one of the surgeries and present the completed forms. All people wishing to register will need to attend this first visit with their passports and visas.
- Currently Albion Street Dental Practice is accepting NHS patients but phone up you local dentists to see if they are accepting NHS patients.
- It is a Visa conditions that all children of school age must be enrolled in a school. East Sussex’s comprehensive guide for applying for a school place can be found at: eastsussex.gov.uk/education-learning/schools/admissions/detailed-guidance
Settling into the Local Area
- There are many groups for Ukraine forming in the County. Some are more established than others, but your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Job Centre and local community groups and places of worship may be able to help you sponsors find other Ukrainian nationals. The importance of being able to talk to and interact with people who share the same experience, culture and languages cannot be under estimated.
Being a Sponsor
- Sponsoring can be a lonely, confusing and difficult process. You are letting people from a different culture share your home and life- this can be a challenge for anyone. Find local Ukrainian clubs. Seek out other sponsors, meet up, form a network, ask each other questions, socialise. Do what every you need to help and reassure you and to make sponsoring a fulfilling process.
Please join the Facebook Group for support and help Lewes Helps Ukraine (Lewes and villages)
Government Website – Homes For Ukraine – frequently asked questions regarding support for Refugees and preparing your home etc
Information for Ukrainian Nationals Arriving in the UK – Red Cross – Share with those you are sponsoring