Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 18 August 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 the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

All information previously shared can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpage – where you will also find our ‘Ukrainian Guest information hub’ 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 duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

**IMPORTANT** update for all hosts and guests

As we approach the initial six-month point since the first guests arrived, all hosts and guests will by now have received, or will soon receive, an email from the Government to update them on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The Government update confirms, as expected, that it is encouraging hosts to carry on hosting beyond the initial six-months period. It hopes that hosts will feel able to continue for a year and confirms that the £350 per month thank you payments will continue to be available throughout this time.

The continuing generosity shown by hosts will make a big difference to Ukrainian guests, enabling them to continue to feel settled in our communities, schools and local workplaces, as they work to establish a secure and safe life for themselves while in the UK and during such uncertain times in their homeland.

For a variety of reasons, we know that some hosts will not be in a position to offer continued accommodation to their guests beyond six months (or at any time thereafter). If you are one of these hosts, please be reminded that you should let your guest(s) know in plenty of time, giving two months’ notice prior to the end of the first six-month period or at any date afterwards.

We had expected the Government to ask local councils to rematch guests to new hosts where a host is unable to continue, thereby enabling guests to remain in the hosted scheme for at least 12 months. However, this latest guidance encourages guests to find their own new hosts with less support from the local authorities.

Experience has shown that rematching a guest with a new host is not an easy task and, as your local council, we want and intend to take a far more active role in trying to steer both guests and hosts through this process. We have access to a list of hosts who have expressed an interest in taking guests but are yet to be matched to anyone and we would urge hosts or guests to contact us in the first instance by emailing duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk.

In addition, we MUST conduct DBS checks and home checks on any potential hosts, whether they have been found through the Council or by other means, and for safeguarding purposes these checks are required before Ukrainian guests move on and into new accommodation. Allowing time for the checks to be made should be factored into any planned moving dates.

  • Hosts and/or guests should contact us in the first instance if unable to continue beyond their initial six-month hosting period.
  • Guests must be given two months’ notice if hosts are unable to extend their hospitality.
  • If onward accommodation is found via other means, hosts/guests MUST contact us so that we can carry out DBS and home checks, before guests move in.

We know that some guests might feel they are now ready to move on from being hosted and part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme and begin to seek their own accommodation. If this is the case, our teams can support people to consider their options. We have more information on the type of support we can offer in the ‘looking ahead’ section of our host information webpage. As part of our ‘moving on’ work for Ukrainian guests, we are also looking at how we can broaden the support and options available and will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.

We are also asking any groups or organisations which have helped Ukrainian guests and hosts in any way to ask them to contact the Council in the first instance if they are seeking help to move on. We want to be sure that enough time is allowed to carry out checks in advance of any potential moves.

If guests already have plans to move on to alternative accommodation, or have already done so, please let us know so that we can update our records and adjust any payments being made. Email to duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk as soon as possible, and include your name, address and details of the guests who have moved elsewhere. The Government scheme allows the Council to make thank you payments to hosts, but these must stop once a guest moves on.

We would like to thank those hosts who have worked with their guests to complete our survey regarding their plans at the six-month point. This has helped us to understand when guests will need our support. We will be sending a reminder to hosts who have not yet completed the survey and, as we move ahead, a Council officer will begin to contact hosts and guests to see if any further help can be provided, especially those from whom we have yet to hear.

Key information is available on our website here: Information for Homes for Ukraine hosts – South Cambs District Council (scambs.gov.uk)

Paid Job Opportunity Available with Wild Minds

We are searching for a Ukrainian-speaking Wellbeing Officer to provide support for special Wild Minds sessions which will run at Wandlebury Country Park from August 24.

Wild Minds is a scheme which was set up three years ago to help improve mental health in young people through outdoor activities, supported by a Clinical Psychologist.

The scheme 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.

The Ukrainian-speaking Wellbeing Officer will support the sessions which offer free outdoor activities in small groups in a park setting to make the most of the natural environment, run by skilled activity instructors and youth workers. The right candidate must have prior experience in wellbeing, such as teaching, social work, youth work and therapy. The role entails attending Wild Mind Sessions once a week for eight weeks and providing emotional support to the young Ukrainians taking part. Please register your interest here.

Each session lasts for an hour and a half. Young Ukrainians who would like to take part can find more information and sign up for the sessions at Wild Minds – South Cambs District Council (scambs.gov.uk)

Call-out for volunteers for Conversational English Café

The Conversational English Café in Waterbeach is still on the hunt for multilingual volunteers to help out. The café is a collaboration between SCDC and local volunteers where guests are invited to come and chat to improve their spoken English. Sessions will start in September and run on Mondays from 6pm to 7:30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 12pm.

If you know or are aware of anyone who speaks English/Ukrainian/Russian and can help as a volunteer, then please let us know. 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, the scheme will be expanded to other areas of the district.

Online forums for hosts with traumatised Ukrainian guests

The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (AFT) is arranging a second date for its online forums to support hosts with Ukrainian guests who may be facing psychological trauma from the war in Ukraine.

The first forum is scheduled for August 24, with a second session being arranged for September 28. The virtual meetings will be hosted by Family and Systemic Psychotherapists as a monthly space for hosts to come and reflect on the challenges of having guests who are displaced from home, country and family, and may be traumatised.

The specific content of each session will be decided on the evening by those attending but will include elements related to self-care, preparing for your guests to arrive, challenges and opportunities of hosting, accessing resources in your community, thinking about the impact of trauma and help with anonymised specific challenges.

Sessions are free but hosts will need to register for tickets for

Wednesday 24 August 7-9pm and/or Wednesday 28 September 7-9pm

Marking Ukraine Independence Day

Next Wednesday 24 August is Ukrainian Independence Day, which marks the Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the USSR in 1991.

For Ukrainians across the UK, including our guests and hosts in South Cambridgeshire, it will be a particularly poignant reminder this year as they think of the situation in their homeland.

As part of our continued support for the Ukrainian people, we will be marking the day on our social media channels and by flying the Ukrainian flag at our Cambourne offices.

We would also like to hear from guests and hosts about what they will be doing on the day to mark the occasion, and if there are any messages guests and hosts would like to share, then let us know. We are also inviting children from guest and host families to share their thoughts by drawing a picture with a message, and then sending a photo of the drawing to duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk  The messages and drawings will be shared anonymously on our social media channels.

Many thanks for reading this latest bulletin, which I hope will be helpful for you and your guests. We are grateful for your continued support for the Homes for Ukraine programme.


Bill Handley
Lead Cabinet Member for Communities
South Cambridgeshire District Council


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