South Cambs – update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 28th July 2022

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 whenever new and relevant information becomes available to hosts in South Cambridgeshire as well as to District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues. The idea is to share the latest updates that we have to support for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

which we encourage you to share with your guests. The online information hub is our equivalent of a ‘Welcome pack’ for guests (we are sharing information digitally so that we are able to keep our information regularly updated, and guests should be able to switch to view in their own language if they wish).

Please note that in addition to these emails, all hosts will receive information from us relating to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 monthly host and £350 one-off 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

DBS checks: Please ensure you have completed them as soon as you are matched

We are reminding all hosts that it is vital they complete the relevant DBS checks for their household as soon as they are matched with a guest/s from Ukraine. If this process is not completed it can delay guests arriving. Full details about how to ensure these important checks are completed are contained within the welcome email that all hosts receive when they are matched with their guests. We cannot emphasise how important it is to ensure these checks are completed. If you require any further information, or have any questions about the DBS process, please email

Looking ahead past the six-month point

We recently wrote to all hosts asking them to complete a survey to give us an indication about whether they are looking to remain part of the Homes for Ukraine programme past the initial minimum six-month point. Please complete this survey if you have not done so already; it will help us to plan how we support hosts and guests during this next period. We have had a good level of response so far and many hosts have said that they are planning to continue to provide accommodation beyond this initial six-month point and we are very grateful for this commitment. As a reminder, the £350 host payment does continue for a period of 12 months.

Although we have not yet had confirmation from Government on the next phase of the programme, we know there is a strong preference that guests should stay with their initial hosts for the full 12 months. As soon as we have further clarity from Government on this we will, of course, let you know. In the meantime, we are continuing to work on how we can provide the best support for guests who wish to move to alternative accommodation.

We’d encourage hosts to continue talking to their guests about their future plans as early as possible – especially if this is likely to involve them moving-on – so that they have time to consider their options. A full 2 months’ notice is needed to guests if you are no longer able to host. Further information can be found within the ‘looking ahead’ section on our Information for Homes for Ukraine hosts webpage.

Free English classes in Sawston and Cottenham – beginning in September

Working in partnership with A Learning Place, we are delighted to be able to offer free, weekly English classes for guests. They will take place in Sawston and Cottenham and will begin in September. Places for students on Homes for Ukraine visas will be funded by us and 20 places will be available in each location and allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The classes will be taught by qualified and experienced ESOL teachers and will focus on the spoken English needed for everyday life. The classes are aimed at adults, but secondary age young people may also attend. To sign up, please complete this short registration form and for more information, please contact Amy on 01223 297358 or

Please note, although classes will take place in Sawston and Cottenham, guests from anywhere in the district are welcome to attend.

Conversational English Café

In addition to the classes mentioned above, we are collaborating with local volunteers to establish ‘Conversation Cafes’ where guests are invited to come and chat informally to improve their spoken English. We hope that sessions will begin in September and are likely to be held either on Monday evenings or Saturday mornings in Waterbeach.

Cambridge University has generously launched an appeal for multilingual volunteers, but numbers are low. If you know or are aware of anyone who speaks English / Ukrainian / Russian and is keen to volunteer in this way, please ask them to contact us on

We will conduct DBS checks prior to the commencement of these sessions to ensure the safety of our guests. If the sessions in Waterbeach are a success, we will look to facilitate Conversation Café sessions in other parts of the district, so please let us know if you are interested.

Thank you for interest in job opportunities

We recently asked for people to consider joining our team to support Ukrainian guests. Our appeal has seen a huge response and will not be able to consider any further applications.

If anyone helped us by sharing this opportunity, can you please remove any website posts etc to avoid disappointment.

Current vacancies at the Council

Although the opportunity to join the team supporting Ukrainian guests is now closed, the attached PDF contains details of our current vacancies at the Council. The document has been translated into Ukrainian, so please pass it on to your guests. You can contact if you need any further assistance or have questions.

H.A.Y. South Cambs! How Are You?

The organisation H.A.Y. South Cambs! How Are You? promotes positive mental health in South Cambridgeshire. Its website shines a spotlight on all those things going on in the community that are good for our mental wellbeing, as well as giving support to those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Its website features a dedicated page for Ukrainian guests and host families Ukrainian Guests & Host Families – How Are You South Cambs (, giving information on the support available to them in the area, with details on what local volunteers and community groups are offering, from activities to practical help to employment opportunities and more.

The website page also includes a map showing where different support groups are situated, which may be useful to those who have arrived in neighbouring parishes where there’s limited support in place.

Third supplier joins ‘free bikes for Ukrainians’ initiative

Our popular free bike scheme to help Ukrainian guests settle into life in South Cambridgeshire is being expanded – with more donations of bicycles needed. TAG Bikes in Huntingdon is joining our initiative with two other local charities, OWL bikes and Camtrust, to help meet the demand. So far, a total of 48 bicycles have been provided for guests.

This bike scheme provides Ukrainian guests with a free fully refurbished cycle, with helmets and locks supplied, also free of charge. The Council also provides them with details of a free Bikeability cycle training course, which includes a translator.

TAG Bikes is appealing for anyone with a spare bike to get in touch to donate it to the scheme, with a particular need for more ladies’ cycles. Bicycles that are in a reasonable condition can be donated along with unwanted helmets, spare tyres and parts to TAG Bikes at Huntingdon Community Centre, 12a Ambury Road, Huntingdon PE29 1JE. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am until 4pm. TAG Bikes would also be willing to collect bicycles that cannot be dropped

off at their centre in Huntingdon. Contact 01480 377697 in the first instance for further details.

Impington-based Camtrust also continues to need donations of bicycles.  If you can help, they can be contacted on 01223 236786 or via email to

OWL bikes are currently working on the bikes they have in stock.

The bicycle scheme is available to any Ukrainian refugees, including children, who are living in South Cambridgeshire under the Homes for Ukraine programme. Hosts can apply on behalf of guests. Applications for bikes can be made online at and the Council will put the applicant in touch with the nearest supplier so they can arrange to collect their bicycle. If bikes are no longer needed, they can be returned to the supplier.

See Third supplier joins ‘free bikes for Ukrainians’ initiative – South Cambs District Council (

Wild Minds – outdoor activities for younger Ukrainian guests 

Young people from Ukraine are invited to get involved in the Wild Minds courses which we run at two of the district’s country parks.

Wild Minds was set up three years ago to help improve mental health in young people through outdoor activities. It is supported by a Clinical Psychologist and offers free outdoor activities in small groups in a park setting to make the most of the natural environment.

We will be running special ‘Ukrainian-only’ sessions for young people aged from 12 up to 17 who are struggling with issues of depression or worry, particularly related to their experiences since the outbreak of the war.

Each session is an hour and a half long and takes place on a weekly basis for eight weeks, run by skilled activity instructors and youth workers, with the first session at

Wandlebury Country Park on 24August. For more information and to sign up to join, see Wild Minds – South Cambs District Council (

Charitable organisation appeal from

The charity has personally helped over 163 Ukrainians, six dogs, and a parrot find long-term sanctuary in the UK. The team of experienced volunteers is dedicated to helping displaced Ukrainian nationals obtain visas, find safe accommodation, and comfortably settle in the United Kingdom. 

With over 12 million Ukrainians displaced since the conflict began, and aiming to help tens of thousands more, it has received wide-ranging assistance so far, including from the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, and Anna Clunes, Britain’s Ambassador to Poland. 

The team matches Ukrainian nationals with their British sponsors, completing the protracted visa application process (including the particularly confusing Animal and Plant Health Agency license applications for pets), arranging temporary accommodation in Poland where required and then onward travel to the UK — all at the charity’s own cost.

And its work doesn’t end there: after the Ukrainian nationals arrive, it provides UK sim cards, assists with setting-up UK bank accounts and local GP registration, arranges English language tutoring, completes National Insurance applications and helps with kindergarten/school places, and much more – in short offering comprehensive support through what can be a confusing and often frustrating process for all concerned.

British sponsors in South Cambridgeshire are invited to visit the charity’s website at or call 07970 030437 for more information.

Grants for activities and education

A reminder that financial help is available in the form of grants to help Ukrainian families integrate into British community life. Launched three weeks ago by the Council, up to £300 per project is offered for a wide range of events which aim to help reduce social isolation and encourage families to feel more involved in the local community and life in Britain.

With a total grant pot of £20,000 available (funded by central government), applications can be made up until the end of the 2022/23 financial year. Project ideas could range from buying books for English language classes or ingredients to fund a cookery day, to venue hire or travel costs to take Ukrainian guests on outings in the local area.

Parish councils, community groups, informal groups or individual hosts are invited to apply. Applications will be assessed weekly to ensure a quick turnaround. Criteria, guidance and an application form can be found on our website. Or for more information, email

All information previously shared can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpage – where you will also find our ‘Ukrainian Guest information hub


Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council