Dear hosts, volunteer coordinators and parish council colleagues
If this is the first time you are receiving this ‘Support for Ukraine community update’ from us as a host, please note that we send these out on a regular basis. They are issued as new and relevant information becomes available, both to hosts in South Cambridgeshire, and to District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues. The idea is to share all the latest updates that we have on support for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. All information previously shared can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpages. Hosts also receive information from us directly related to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 (host) and £200 (guest) payments – hosts should already have received information from us about this through our welcome email.
For any questions not covered in this e-newsletter or on our Support for Ukraine webpages, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
You may be interested to hear that we have looked at the latest data published by the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and South Cambridgeshire as an area has had 372 visas issued as of 26 April. This is the tenth highest number of visas issued for any area in the country. This is also the highest number for a District Council area. A big thank you from us to hosts and communities for stepping forwards so readily to support this programme.
Support for Ukraine: Zoom meeting: Thursday 12 May from 6pm to 7:30pm
As part of our offer around the Homes for Ukraine scheme, we want to engage with hosts (and eventually their guests) and facilitate various means of support. As you will by now know, we have started this via our new private Facebook groups (please see more about these groups later in this newsletter).
In the same vein, we will be holding a Zoom meeting, for hosts, community support groups, guests and local district and county elected members on Thursday 12 May from 6pm to 7:30pm. Some of the content at the meeting is likely to be more focussed on hosts as we will run through our approach to the scheme and the processes we have been putting in place, as well as having partners from health and education, our own Business Support team and Cambridge University speak about access to services and support they can offer. However, the event should be helpful to a wide range of people. And of course, hosts are welcome to have their guests join them on the call.
We will also be asking what kind of support hosts and their guests would like to see from us in the coming weeks and months. We know from our experiences throughout the COVID pandemic that community groups have stepped forward to help and in many cases are doing so to support Ukrainian guests, and we want anything we do to complement that. We are proposing to facilitate some more local face to face meetings for hosts and guests, with information about what is available more locally, and where you and your guests can meet in person. You may have ideas about what would make such events useful to you and we’ll be inviting you to share these, as well as your other ideas, on the day.
The link to join the meeting is here. The passcode is 558068 but it is not always required. Please contact us if you need help ahead of time with queries about Zoom and we will be happy to try to help. We look forward to seeing you there.
Bus travel for guests
We have been contacted by hosts who have been told by Stagecoach that local councils can provide bus passes or a code which will provide guests with access to free bus travel. I am sorry to say that this is not the case; there is currently no scheme in place that facilitates free bus travel for guests who are part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. We understand from talking to Stagecoach that they had initially provided some limited free bus travel for a small number of guests, but they were unaware of the number of guests who could come to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which meant it was not feasible to do so for all of them on an ongoing basis. We are pleased to say that Stagecoach now has a better understanding of the local position on guest numbers, and they remain keen to support guests as they settle into their new home in a way that is viable for them as a business. They will be coming back to us as soon as possible with further information and we will share this with you as soon as it is available.
In the meantime, we are of course providing guests with a pre-paid Mastercard (the £200 per guest arrival payment) that could be used to purchase bus travel on-board. The Stagecoach website states: “Contactless payment cards issued for Visa, Mastercard and Maestro can be used. Pre-paid contactless payment cards can be used but please make sure they have enough credit on them before boarding.” We also have feedback that some guests have used the card for this purpose.
We are sorry for any mixed messages that may have reached hosts and guests on bus travel and caused confusion.
We have been contacted by a number of hosts regarding visa applications for their expected Ukrainian guests. The information we are provided by the Home Office only gives us very limited details of visa applications and therefore we are not able to provide any updates to hosts or guests. We would ask hosts and guests to be patient and contact the Home Office through the channels available in the application process. We have contacted our local MPs and the Local Government Association to ask them to convey local concerns around visas so better information can be provided to applicants.
In the meantime, we have also been in discussions with staff at the offices of the MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, and the MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Lucy Frazer, regarding the visa process. Please remember that local parliamentary constituencies are slightly different to the boundaries for councils. Your local MP will either be Anthony Browne if you are in the South Cambridgeshire constituency or Lucy Frazer if you are in the South East Cambridgeshire constituency.
Any South Cambridgeshire residents who would like Anthony Browne’s office to raise visa concerns with the Home Office should email email@example.com
Any South East Cambridgeshire residents who would like Lucy Frazer’s office to raise visa concerns with the Home Office should email firstname.lastname@example.org
However, please note that due to the number of visa enquiries the Home Office is receiving, the response will not be immediate.
Finally, please note that the Ukraine Extension Scheme which opens on Tuesday (3 May) will allow Ukrainians already in the UK on temporary visas to extend their leave here.
COVID vaccines for guests: Guidance from NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group
Everyone in the UK, including people who have recently arrived in the country from Ukraine, is entitled to the free COVID-19 vaccinations they are eligible for from the NHS. Individuals who haven’t yet had any dose of the vaccine can simply walk in to get their first, second and booster dose(s) as appropriate at any of the walk-in clinics in our area. You can find these walk-in clinics via www.thevaccinators.co.uk – Patients who walk in for their vaccination do not need to bring ID and do not require an NHS number.
People who have had one or more doses abroad are usually expected to bring proof of these vaccinations to the vaccination clinic in order to evidence which doses they are now due to receive. However, we understand that many Ukrainian individuals may not have been able to bring proof of their previous vaccinations with them. If a person who has recently arrived from Ukraine cannot produce proof of their previous vaccinations, the vaccinating team will be able to restart their vaccination course. This means that they’ll receive a first, second and booster dose(s) as appropriate in the UK.
If a Ukrainian individual does have proof of their previous vaccinations, we would ask them to bring this to the vaccination site so they can continue their vaccination course.
Our processes: A timeline
We thought it would be helpful to set out the processes that we have in place and are following – at a very high level – as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The below table should help answer any questions about the stages at which these different steps take place. As the scheme got up and running some guests had arrived before some of these steps could be completed. But the table below shows our normal process now. But please do contact us if you have any questions.
|Home office informs us of your sponsor match – this is the first time we have any details for a sponsor or their proposed guests|
|We send an email to sponsors outlining important information|
|This email asks sponsors to instigate DBS checks online|
|Home inspections are arranged by us – contact is made by us to sponsor|
|Sponsors complete our data capture form to let us know who has arrived|
|Guest £200 payment is processed|
|Sponsor £350 per month payment is set up on our systems to pay in arrears|
|Welfare checks on your Ukrainian guests are arranged|
Welcome flyer for guests
For your information, we are providing the attached welcome flyer to all new guests who have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The text is in the following order: English, Ukrainian (both on page 1), Polish and Russian (both on page 2).
Welcome pack for guests
A reminder that, if you are trying to find information to provide to guests as a ‘welcome pack’, please view our digital welcome pack on our guest webpages here. This set of online pages provides all the latest information for your guests, and will be regularly updated with any new information for guests too.
Laptops for guests
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign has partnered with Laptops 4 Learning – a company that refurbishes tech devices obtained from companies and educational establishments and recycles them, cleansed and ready for use by people in need.
A guest or host (on behalf of the guest) under the Homes for Ukraine scheme can fill in a form once a guest arrives to request support and a device. The turnaround is around 2 weeks.
The scheme is still looking for more devices. You can contact Admin_TeamUkraine@cambridgerefugees.org if you or a company can support.
Private Facebook groups
As mentioned last week, we have recently set up two private Facebook groups as part of our support for the Homes for Ukraine programme. The first is intended purely for those individuals or families who are hosting guests from Ukraine. We are really pleased to see this group is being well used already, with some helpful discussion, ideas and points raised. The second group is intended purely for guests from Ukraine. These new Facebook groups are intended to be complementary to existing community Facebook pages, email newsletters and so on, and be more individually tailored for hosts or guests. We think they are of value given that the District Council is the only organisation with an over-arching view of all hosts / guests and can bring them together on a district-wide level. Existing and new hosts have been sent the links to these Facebook groups to join as a host or pass to their guests. If you are a host and have not received the links, or have misplaced them, please just email email@example.com and we can provide them again.
FSB updated advice
In the latest advice from the FSB, find out how your small business can keep a close eye on operations and get advice as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to disrupt the global economy.
Thank you for your continued support.