Refugees at Home is a registered independent charity that has been providing hosting to refugees and asylum seekers of all nationalities since 2015.
Since April 2022, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, we have been providing matching and hosting of Ukrainian guests through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ and Ukraine Family visa programmes.
Because the Ukrainian visa schemes are government programmes, and operate differently for our hosts and guests, here, we outline what you can expect if you host through the Homes for Ukraine scheme through Refugees at Home.
Refugees at Home is separate and independent from the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme and the Ukrainian Family scheme. We do not receive any funding or support through the scheme from local or central government. We are, however, a recognised provider of a matching service alongside other organisations and this may be how you found out about us.
Refugees at Home matches hosts with refugees and asylum seekers from over 70 different countries. All our hosting is temporary and altruistic. We act as a facilitator between hosts and guests, making placements and providing ongoing support for hosts and throughout each placement.
Our home visitors meet potential hosts and assess homes prior to a placement being made. These visits focus on aspects of hosting such as suitability, boundaries and power imbalances and are designed to give every placement the best chance of success. They may be face to face, or online. We also provide ongoing support and advice during each placement, as well as access to social media groups and the chance to meet other hosts and guests.
Homes for Ukraine is a government initiative. Sponsors are encouraged to find their own match of a guest and to support them through the visa application process, some sponsors find their guests through social media, and others through the recognised providers. Sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme need to host their guests for at least six months, and are offered £350 per month ‘thank you’ payment by the government (paid through the sponsor’s local authority, on completion of their checks).
There is much more information on Homes for Ukraine on the government’s website.
Under the scheme, Local Authorities are provided with funding and are responsible for providing wraparound guest support, including organising rematching (finding a new sponsor) where appropriate. Support can vary across different Local Authorities so do explore what is happening in your area.
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in what makes a successful placement. Our role is to support hosts and guide them through their experience. In most instances, this is support in how to navigate your day-to-day experience of having a stranger who has experienced war and trauma come to stay in your home.
We will hand match a guest with your household, based on your hosting preferences and the needs of your guests.
Occasionally, placements need to end and this is where we would guide you through how to navigate that, and the difficult emotions that it can bring about.
If you are welcoming a Ukrainian guest through the Homes for Ukraine programme, you will need to complete a visa application for your guests. Your local authority will then be informed that you have submitted a visa application, and they will be in contact to arrange a home inspection and carry out DBS checks for adults in your household. These checks are required if you wish to receive the ‘thank you’ payments and for your guests to access the wraparound support they are entitled to.
If hosting through Refugees at Home you will be visited by one of our Home Visitors (either face to face or virtually). Our visits are a chance for you to meet one of our experienced team members and ask any questions. It is important to consider before you host how your guests will fit into your home and family, and that everyone is in agreement about being a sponsor. Sometimes these things are not obvious to consider until your Home Visitor raises them.
If you are welcoming through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, you will also be visited by a representative from your local authority. We know that Local Authorities differ in their approach – some conducting intensive visits while others are looking at more practical issues, like smoke alarms and gas certificates. They must complete these checks in order to receive the thank you payment, for the visa to be approved and for your guests to access the support that they are entitled to.
Under the government’s scheme, you must act as a sponsor for a Ukrainian individual or family, committed to hosting them for six months, and to apply for the visa on their behalf. You may find that you offer other support to your guest, such as assisting them in applying for benefits, registering at schools for children, but do remember that your local authority has funding to provide wraparound support to the guests, so do make sure you find out what is offered in your area.
Please check on the government’s website for information on other requirements.
This guidance on gov.uk explains how the visa application process will work.
You will need to apply for visa(s) on behalf of your guest(s). Refugees at Home cannot advise on this process. We are not immigration advisors and so it would not be appropriate for us to provide this support.
If you have any issues with the visa process we recommend contacting:
Yes, hosts who are sponsoring guests from Ukraine and are registered through Refugees at Home to find a guest to sponsor will be able to access the £350 p/month in arrears from their Local Authority, provided all of the government’s conditions are met. Refugees at Home does not provide this payment, nor can influence the speed of payment.
The visa will allow the individual to stay in the UK for three years. They will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.
They will also be able to access wraparound support from the Local Authority. This should include help with accessing schools, GPs and English Language as a Second Language (ESOL) classes. Please refer to the government website for access to public services.
Our team assess the guest in line with our standard procedures. After this, we will approach potential hosts about suitable matches and share the guests’ information for consideration.
Once a host has agreed to host and act as sponsor we introduce the host and guest. We recommend having a video call prior to making the visa application to start to get to know one another.
If you both decide to go ahead, the host must liaise with the guest to make the visa application. The host will need to request the relevant information for the visa application from the guest. Please be aware that guests are likely in an unstable situation and internet connectivity might be an issue. For this reason, we ask that hosts are the ones responsible for actually submitting the application. Refugees at Home is unable to support with visa applications.
Once the visa application(s) have been submitted, hosts should keep in touch with their guest so that they know when the visa is granted and then together make travel arrangements. Please keep your R@H Placement Coordinator up to date on how things are going.
When the guest(s) arrive in the UK, we will remain in contact with hosts, and you will have the details of your Placement Coordinator who you can contact with any questions or queries you have.
We will check in with both host and guest the day after their arrival (as long as we know when this is!).
Our timeframe for regular check ins are:
If you decide to host your guests beyond the initial 6 months, we will arrange with you how you would like us to support you. You will be able to contact your Placement Coordinator throughout your placement.
Your Placement Coordinator will contact you after 4 months of hosting to ask if you are planning to continue after 6 months. If this is not possible, they will be able to share information with you and your guest on the best way to proceed. This is in line with government advice. If your guest needs rematching within the same local authority, Refugees at Home may be able to assist with finding a new host. However, this is dependent on host availability in that area.
We are extremely sorry that Refugees at Home is unable to help with any rematching requests under the Homes for Ukraine scheme for placements not originally made through Refugees at Home.
For more information, please view our statement on rematching.
So that we can best support the host and guest, please inform your Placement Coordinator as soon as issues arise.
In the event that issues arise which cannot be resolved with R@H support and a placement must end, we will support you as a host during this time. Your guest will have to present to the Local Authority for help with rematching. Ending sponsorship or rematching
We have been advised by Government that for people to rematch via a system outside of the Local Authority means they run the risk of leaving the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Where there are children in the family placement, the Local Authority has a duty to accommodate and may do this using their Homelessness provisions.
Ukrainian guests may face the same issues as our guests from other countries, such as language barriers, different cultural practices, different tastes in food and so on. Please do refer to the hosting section of our website and read through our guest resources for more information on this.
However, it is important to note that there may be specific issues affecting guests from Ukraine.
Ukrainian guests are coming directly to hosting from a traumatic and precarious situation. As the war is on-going, it is likely that guests will continue to process trauma while they are being hosted. They may lose family members or friends during the six month period. All of which will impact on mental health and how the guest interacts with the host family. Please be aware of this and if you have any concerns or worries, reach out to your Placement Coordinator straight away. Please also refer to Barnardo’s for mental health support.
Ukrainian guests will need to ﬁnd work and accommodation independently and this will be difficult for some especially if balancing care of their children, or if they are older and processing trauma. Local Authorities should help with people settling into communities and Refugees at Home will be checking in directly with the guest to assess whether further support to moving on is needed. Some of the main challenges around this are the expectations around what is available in terms of schools, housing and locations.
Many of our Ukrainian guests are women and children and larger families. Often there are men in the household who have been able to leave Ukraine before it became prohibited or other reasons.
Please do refer to the guidance on the hosting page of our website for further information, or download our hosting brochures for things to be aware of in your home.