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Borough Council Waits for More Details of How It Can Help Ukrainian Refugees

Published on: 17 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 17 Mar, 2022

Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children as men between 18 and 60 are required to stay and assist the country’s defence – Photo UN Women/Aurel Obreja

By Martin Giles

GBC is still “eagerly” awaiting details of the government scheme to accommodate Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their country.

Table showing the number of Ukrainian refugees no in neighbouring countries. Source UNHCR There are thought to be five million Ukrainians already living in Europe.

The government has said that there will be no limit to the number of Ukrainian refugees who can live with UK host families under a new visa scheme. But criticism continues about the apparent lack of urgency in the UK’s response.

Sir Edward Davy MP

So far (at Mar 17) about 5,000 UK visas are believed to have been issued. This morning, Ed Davy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that free flights should be arranged to take refugees from the Ukrainian Polish border, which he was visiting to see the situation for himself, straight to the UK.

Mr Davy also told the BBC that many refugees he had spoken to wanted to stay close to the Ukrainian border because they wanted to return to Ukraine as soon as they could. And a charity has warned the number of people registering their interest in sponsoring Ukrainian refugees to stay in their homes could far outweigh the number of people who are ultimately helped to safety via the scheme.

See also: Sutton Place Could Be Used for Ukrainian Refugees if Legal Obstacles Are Surmounted

More than 100,000 Britons have registered their interest in the Government’s programme since the web page launched on Monday. But Positive Action in Housing (PAIH), which has run the Room for Refugees hosting programme since 2002, said it was so far struggling to “drum up” interest in the scheme from those who have fled or are trapped by the war in Ukraine.

Cllr Julia McShane

Deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council, Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough), said: “We are willing to do the best we can to help those in need. We have been talking to the government to understand how we can use and support the Ukraine sponsorship programme and have registered our interest.

“On Monday the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched. The Homes for Ukraine scheme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety, including those with no family ties to the UK.

The Ukrainian flag flying in Guildford as a sign of support

“Phase One of the scheme will allow sponsors in the UK to nominate a named Ukrainian or a named Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property. Both individuals and organisations can register their interest further and get information at: homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk. 

“We eagerly await the full details of the government’s scheme and how it will apply to local authorities. The government will be publishing guidance on how the scheme will work for councils soon. It will also decide how the £10,500 will be allocated between borough and county councils, and what each authority will be asked and allowed to do.”

Cllr Tim Oliver

SCC leader Tim Oliver (Con, Weybridge) added: At this incredibly difficult time for Ukraine, I am heartened to see the country pull together as it has done and step up to support those who have been displaced by this despicable invasion. We will continue to work with government to ensure everyone has all they need to provide whatever help we can, while making it as straightforward as possible to do so.

“Residents who wish to offer accommodation to Ukrainians fleeing the fighting can find details on how to register through the SCC website, while those who want to donate can continue to do so through the British Red Cross Disaster Emergency Committee Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal. Finally, let me add my thanks to the residents of Surrey and the whole country for everything that they have done so far.”

See also: Air Raid Siren Played in Guildford to Show Support For Ukraine

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