Getting to the UK:
If the refugee/s have settled family in the UK, they could apply for the Ukraine Family Scheme visa for free. The refugee will then have 3 years leave to remain, be able to access welfare benefits and schools etc. Security checks will be in place re: the refugee and all adults in the sponsor’s household (DBS checks for all adults in the household)
If they do not have settled family in the UK, the refugee/s could apply for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (also known as ‘Homes for Ukraine’) for free.
Refugees have to upload their own passport, otherwise access a visa application centre for biometrics.
Once their online application has been processed, they will be given either:
- an official letter of permission (if they hold a valid Ukrainian international passport)
- a visa (if they attended a visa application centre to give their biometrics)
This is used to board a plane or other form of transport to the UK.
If they are not eligible for one of these schemes, they may be able to apply for other visas.
What happens at the UK border: If they have a permission letter
When they arrive in the UK, they show their permission letter to the Border Force officer.
The Border Force officer will put a 6-month entry stamp in their passport. This stamp proves their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.
If they have a visa: When they arrive in the UK, they need to show their visa to the Border Force officer.
They will then be able to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Their National Insurance number is on the reverse of their Biometric Residence Permit
If they plan to work or claim other benefits, if they do not have a BRP they can apply for a National Insurance number on the gov.uk website.
If they did not attend a visa application centre when they applied to the Ukraine Family Scheme or Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, they need to provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) within 6 months of arriving in the UK. This will allow them to stay in the UK for up to 3 years. They will get a BRP that shows their immigration status.
How people can help in the UK
- Offer accommodation – as host families, register on the Government’s website as a sponsor/host – www.homesforukraine.co.uk (the matching host families with refugees portal is run by the charity ‘Reset’).Anyone in the UK with a spare room can do this, as long as they can offer a bedroom, access to a kitchen and bathroom and a place to live for at least 6 months. If they are not a British citizen, they must have leave to remain for at least 6 months. £350 per month can be claimed for each residence (query via the local council?)
- Become part of a wrap around team to support refugees and hosts eg via a meeting of all interested in a community to share information, and for individuals, local businesses and organisations to respond confidentially by e-mail to one central person with what they can do or are offering, eg accommodation, transport, offers of meals in others’ homes to give the refugee and their hosts a break, or up-front cash whilst refugees are awaiting the arrival of their benefits. This information is collated and a way forward agreed upon for that community. Sharing tasks and ascertaining local skills to cluster around the person forms the wrap around care – eg links to the Job Centre, GP, interpreters, translation of letters, experts in mental health and PTSD. Set up safe places as community hubs where people can meet up for friendship, signposting, advice, counselling etc. Option 2 is safer and more sustainable as a group supporting the refugee/s in the same community.
- Being part of an experienced volunteer force of trainers and mentors for hosts/sponsors based on experience of welcoming refugees to the UK from other schemes
- Building strategic partnerships such as a school multi-academy trust, or a faith group, aiming to place say 50 people a year
- Donate money and/or goods eg to the Disasters Emergency Committee tel 0370 60 60 900, donate money to help with Oakland International transportation costs from Redditch ….or donate goods as per the list of requests (which changes weekly) via e-mailing Ukraine@oakland-international-com
Suggestions as a host/sponsor/volunteering in whatever capacity
- Register with Sanctuary Foundation – https://www.sanctuaryfoundation.org.uk/
- Register with Citizens UK to support Ukrainian Refugees: www.actionnetwork.org/forms/support-ukraine-refugees-2/
- As a group, register with Here2HelpWorcestershire
We understand providing housing shouldn’t affect mortgages, council tax or house insurances. If the property is rented, the landlord should be notified that an additional person/persons are staying there. There is an expectation for the host/sponsor to help the refugee/s claim benefits, access school places, register with a GP, open a bank account etc.
The refugee/family will have experienced trauma and unimaginable loss. They need to feel safe, to have time to themselves, to meet with other Ukrainian refugees, to have opportunity to grieve. They may start having flashbacks and nightmares. They need those around them to be sensitive to their needs and to just listen at times. They need to be able to keep in touch with family and friends overseas and in risky situations often via What’s App video calls as/when they can get a signal. They will often use their phones to Google translate anything which comes to them in writing on texts and e-mails. They need awareness of cultural issues, and what people can and cannot do in this country eg we do not slap children .
Additional suggestions: where to go for help/advice:
Ukraine Support Helpline
Phone: 0800 148 8586 …Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm/ Saturday, 10am to 3pm.
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines. E-mail:email@example.com
They are at present focussing on setting up support with mental health issues
Citizens Advice for benefits advice and other issues, through the national phone service on Advice line (England): 0800 144 8848/ Bromsgrove and Redditch CAB 0808 278 7890
Redditch local Jobcentre Plus 0800 169 0190
DWP 0800 169 0310
Universal Credit helpline CAB – 0800 144 8444/ Universal Credit Helpline 0800 328 5644
Pension Credit 0800 731 0469
National Insurance number application helpline – tel 0800 141 2079
Home Office British Nationals Overseas – AOMGeneralEnquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk
School admissions Worcestershire County Council 01905 822700
Redditch college provides English tuition – ESOL groups
Mental health support – via Worcestershire Healthy Minds Service 01905 681 915, Worcestershire Safe Haven 01905 600400, Barnados 0800 148 8586. Otherwise via GP referral into Health and Social Care Mental Health services.
Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.brwr.uk
Refugee Migration Centre 0121 374 0140. Migrant Help 0808 8010 503
Migrant Rights Network 020 8123 6021
Birmingham Community Law Centre – free legal advice – 0121 227 6540
Refugee Action 07702 902440. Refugee Council 0808 8010 503
West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership – wmsmp.org.uk
Adult Social Care Worcestershire 01905 768053
Some learning from BRWR supporting refugees and asylum seekers from 2016
The Biometric Residence Permit is issued by the Home Office. It is very important the correct spellings of names and correct sized gaps between names are given when biometrics (fingerprints and photo) are taken, as if there are mistakes on the issued permit it can take up to 10 months and maybe longer for the permit to be re-issued. The nearest offices for biometrics to Bromsgrove and Redditch are in Birmingham City Centre. Booking an appointment has to be online or by phone by calling the UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application services) Support Line on 0844 8920232 (Calls cost £0.04 per minute) plus your provider’s access charge.
Eligibility for free NHS treatment – hospital, GP etc. Requires evidence of the right to remain in the UK ie the person’s BRP. A form may be given the person for completion at the hospital to evidence their right to remain in the UK, otherwise they will not be entitled to free treatment.
Interpreters – always ask for free interpreting over the phone or face to face if need be in readiness for GP, dentist, or hospital appointments
Eligibility for free prescriptions- being in receipt of Universal Credit does not necessarily qualify the person for free prescriptions. Need to check if the person is eligible eg if they are if in receipt of income related Employment Support