Lincolnshire is preparing to receive its first Ukrainian evacuees after hundreds of families reached out to offer sanctuary, safety and a warm welcome under the new Homes for Ukraine programme.
In tandem with the preparations being made in homes across the county, a network of local councils, other public bodies, charities and community groups is continuing to develop, in partnership, a range of services and mechanisms to underpin the response.
The Government has now advised the Lincolnshire Resettlement Partnership to anticipate guests being allocated to around 200 sponsors in the next couple of weeks. This is through phase one of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, following the approval of initial visa applications. Sponsorships are spread reasonably evenly across the districts of Lincolnshire, with between 25 and 35 per area initially. As more visas are approved, we anticipate the number of hosted arrivals to increase in the coming weeks.
In advance of the arrivals, various checks are starting to be made by the local authorities to ensure the suitability of the accommodation for the imminent arrivals.
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, people offer up space for up to six months and go on to independently make a direct link with a named guest. Sponsors and guests are required to find each other and make a match, perhaps through a relationship already in place, through friends, a charity or similar organisation. Either side can then make the necessary visa application, naming both parties, which triggers the sponsorship being agreed.
Alongside this, the Ukraine Families Scheme enables family members to join Ukraine relatives already resident in the UK. This scheme operates differently, for example no payments are made, and no checks are required. A further process for community sponsorship is being developed nationally.
Within Lincolnshire, in anticipation of the first arrivals, the various councils and organisations contributing to the response have been working hard on understanding the emerging guidance and putting processes in place such as wellbeing support, safeguarding measures and checks. They are also working on aligning health and education provision and with voluntary and charitable sector partners in developing a broader range of responses and ‘wrap-around’ support, plus a community fund for local giving.
Councillor Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council and Lincolnshire representative on the East Midlands regional migration broad said:
"Lincolnshire is clearly standing ready to welcome as many evacuating Ukrainians as we are able to and to offer the levels of support necessary to assist them and their sponsoring hosts in settling into their new circumstances at a pace that respects their need for time and space.
"I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has offered up their hearts and homes and navigated their way to making those essential connections required to extend a hand of friendship and an open door of welcome and refuge. As a network of councils and organisations we are doing everything we can to facilitate this transition for everyone concerned and I thank everyone who is contributing to this response in any way.
"I continue to encourage everyone who can, to offer up any suitable accommodation they have available and for those who can’t, to consider giving in other ways; maybe to the fund set up to provide a generous community welcome and help to ease the settling-in process of our guests as they arrive."
An overview of the Lincolnshire response and mechanisms for how you can get involved – as a potential host or by giving to various funds – and links to broader government guidance can be found at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ukraine and on local district council websites.
If you have expressed an interest in hosting Ukrainian evacuees – at homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk - in summary, this is the process:
- Phase 1 needs you to identify your own guest/s. You or they need to apply for a visa. This needs information for you and them such as passport details and other personal data. Further checks will be made on everyone involved, including the wider household. Local councils cannot assist with any of this.
- The Government does not tell councils about your expression of interest until you / your guest has made a visa application. It is at this stage that they are made aware to anticipate an arrival.
- Once your guest’s visa is granted, you will get a letter from the county council and your district council will contact you to arrange a visit to your home.
- When they visit your home, they will need to see information to progress your DBS checks. The letter will tell you what you need to have ready.
- Once everything is approved the Home Office will issue your guest with a permit to travel and you will be expected to co-ordinate their arrival.
- We will ask you to confirm that your guests have arrived.
- The process for connecting with schools and heath care provision etc will need to be undertaken following arrival.
If you have made an expression of interest but don’t have a named guest, please bear in mind that:
- you are not likely to be contacted by anyone at this time
- it may be that for later phases you might not need to identify a guest yourself, but there is no information on this yet
The Wellbeing Lincs service can be accessed by Ukrainian arrivals or their host families to ensure connections are made for all the advice and ‘wrap around’ support they need, as well as statutory services such as healthcare, education, benefits and council services.
Initial contact by email is preferred to: Ukraine.Wellbeing@e-lindsey.gov.uk or call on 01507 613044 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Thursday; 10am to 4:30 pm
Also, in anticipation of arrivals, a community fund is in place dedicated to helping those arriving in Lincolnshire with very little to meet specific costs and needs over and above what Government and councils can provide and to help restore a sense of independence and autonomy.
The first of its kind in the country, the Lincolnshire Community Foundation at www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/LincolnshireCF-Ukraine offers a mechanism for everyone to contribute to the Lincolnshire Welcome. Every penny received will go towards helping people who come to Lincolnshire for resettlement, helping the new arrivals to access transport, broadband and digital resources, access to leisure facilities, vouchers for toys, etc.
If organisations, faith groups or similar are considering a sponsorship of a group of families (under a yet-to-be released phase 2), they are asked to make enquiries with the county council before the application stage, to check on the availability of school places in their area. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the location and approximate make-up of the families (number and age of children, including early years children ages 2-4).
An overview on ways to help in respect of the Ukraine situation can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/news/ukraine-what-you-can-do-to-help