Many of you may have seen on the news that a scheme is now in place tosupport those who are seeking to welcome Ukrainian nationals into their homes – but what is the scheme and what does it involve?
What is the scheme?
It is an individual scheme at present. This means that one family or person from Ukraine will be linked to one household in the UK. In later months it may be possible for a whole church or circuit to register together but that is in phase 2 of the scheme.
You register your interest in the scheme through a system called 'Reset' on www.homesforukraine.org.uk – here your details will be processed and a match made with someone in Ukraine or someone Ukrainian who has already fled the country. The site is VERY busy at present so don't be concerned if you have a long wait.
You can offer to take folks into your family home or you can offer any other available residential property you have. All households involved will be required to have their house checked and DBS checks done on every adult in your house. You cannot charge rent but you will receive around £350 a month and this should not be taxed, nor will it affect your benefits or any benefits being accessed by the folks you welcome in. You need to be able to offer a bedroom and unlimited access to the kitchen and bathroom facilities.
How do I prepare?
Before you get involved in the scheme, make sure everyone in your household is on board with the idea. Ukrainian nationals who are matched will be given from 6 months up to 3 years 'Right to remain' in the UK with benefits, the right to work and school access so they could be part of your family for a long time. You also need to check with your landlord, mortgage lenders , insurers etc that you are in fact allowed to be involved in the scheme.
How do I get started?
As part of your preparation, contact as many local services as you can. Do you know what counselling and mental health support agencies are available in your area?
Do you know how to signpost your guests to a synagogue or mosque if that is where they need to worship?
Do you know where the nearest shops are for more unusual groceries from other countries?
Can you signpost your guests to charity shops and bargain stores?
Do you know if your guests speak any English and if not – can you find someone who speaks
Russian and ask if they can help?
Can you definitely offer a home for at least 6 months?
I want to help but can't open my home
Don't worry! There are lots of other ways to be supportive. Maybe your church could find out if any folks are coming to your area and offer a weekly coffee morning or a one off 'Day Away' where Ukrainians can meet together, chat in familiar language end support each other.
Why not offer to support a family that you know are taking in Ukrainians? Tell them you will have the family over for dinner once a week to give their hosts a break or offer yourself as 'taxi driver' to give folk lifts to appointments and for shopping.
Lastly, if you do decide to get involved, let your church know so that we can pray for you and support you in this new venture and be sure to check the Methodist Church UK website for more information.
Rev Jenny Porterpryde