Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 15 December 2022

Dear hosts, volunteer coordinators and parish council colleagues

Welcome to everyone, and especially to new hosts. This regular ‘Support for Ukraine community update’ contains information for hosts in South Cambridgeshire, as well District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues.Newspreviously shared here can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpage and the Ukrainian Guest information hub which we encourage you to share with your guests who should be able to switch to view in their own language. Please also check-in on the important notes at the bottom of the newsletter.

Government announcement on more funding for Homes for Ukraine scheme

The Government has just announced further financial support for the thousands of families who opened their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country. You can read further details of this on the Government website. As this news was only announced in the last 24 hours, we are still reviewing the detail that sits behind it. We are also expecting more clarification from Government in the coming days.

The main headlines are:

  • Homes for Ukraine hosts to receive £500 a month as a ‘thank you’ for ongoing support after a Ukrainian’s first year of sponsorship
  • £150m additional funding for councils across the UK to help support Ukrainian guests move into their own homes and reduce the risk of homelessness
  • Councils in England to get new £500m fund to acquire housing stock for those fleeing conflict (including from Ukraine and Afghanistan) and reduce homelessness
  • New potential hosts urged to come forward and apply to re-match existing guests through the scheme

It is important to note that the national change to increase host thank you payments takes place once a guest has been sponsored for one year. The standard thank you payment for hosts remains at £350 until the one-year mark. We have already offered a £150 opt in top up to thank you payments in response to the cost-of-living crisis for the first 12 months of hosting. This offer remains and those who have already opted in will continue to receive the increased £500 payment.

We plan to ask hosts for your views in the New Year to help us understand how we can continue to provide the best support possible. We will also work with you to understand your view on whether this announcement changes your view on the timeframe you are likely to want to host for. Please look out for a survey in the New Year as we really do value your feedback.

Important: School Transport

Some of our guests are now moving to other host families in other locations. Where this is the case would new hosts please ensure that those guests with school-age children are aware of the latest important advice below related to school transport arrangements.

Council Officers have been in discussion with Cambridgeshire County Council regarding school transport for Ukrainian refugees. This has been initiated for several reasons, especially due to the shrinking number of potential hosts, the difficulties we are facing rematching guests within their current location and to advise guests when they are ready to transition into independent accommodation.

The rules on school transport mean that if guests move locations, transport is only provided to the designated school that children should attend in their new location, which will be the catchment school and/or the school closest to the child’s address. This will mean it is likely that guest parents will need to talk to the County Council to arrange moving schools.

There are some circumstances whereby free travel assistance may be available to pupils on a case-by-case basis however, to qualify for this service, they must meet the eligibility criteria. More information can be found on Cambridgeshire County Council’s website.

Campaign for more Hosts

Thank you to anyone who has responded to Our ‘Spare Room’ campaign to encourage more local people to join our Homes for Ukraine scheme. The campaign, run in conjunction with Cambridge City Council, continues to feature across our social media channels (Facebook Council Facebook page Twitter LinkedIn), on digital indoor and outdoor signage, in local Sky television ads and in the local press.

If you are interested in hosting, or know of someone else who may be interested, please take a look at our website for information and for details of the support available to new hosts. Where Ukrainian guests have been living with hosts in South Cambridgeshire but is no longer available, we are keen to find them alternative hosting close to where they have been living. Our pool of hosts stood at over 600 when the scheme launched. We now have less than 40 so we really do need help finding more. Anyone who can offer help simply needs to text ROOM to 88802.

Reminder: Holiday and Food schemes

Guest families in receipt of income-related free school meals can apply to the Christmas Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme for up to 16 hours of festive activities per child which will include a daily meal and snacks. For details about the Christmas programme click on ‘South Cambridgeshire Schemes’.

Staying safe on winter roads

A reminder to cycling guests that there is one Bikeability session left before Christmas – on December 17 at Lower Cambourne Cricket Pavilion, Woodfield Lane CB23 6FY.  This session is specifically for Ukrainian guests to teach them useful skills to keep them safe on the roads, especially during dark winter evenings and in wet or icy road conditions.

To attend sign up online. The session runs from 9am to 12pm or 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Bikeability is free-of-charge, but we ask guests who sign up but are then unable to attend to please let us know by emailing to duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

Free bikes available for guests

Guests who would like to have a free bike can apply for one via one of the Council’s three partner charities Owl Bikes, Camtrust and Tag Bikes. To find out more about the Free Bikes for Ukrainians scheme, see the Local Travel Support section of our Ukrainian Guest Information Hub

Hosts can apply online on behalf of their guests. Donations of more bicycles will be gratefully received by all three charities, as well as unwanted helmets, spare tyres and parts.

Reminder: Small Grants to help reduce social isolation for guests

Local groups can still apply for a small grant of £300 from the Council to help fund events aimed at reducing social isolation for Ukrainian guests. Hosts can also apply (with the written support of their Parish Council or District Councillor/s for the project) providing the event or project extends beyond their own household and into the wider Ukrainian community.

Successful previous applicants have included projects such as a graduation party, Christmas get-togethers and day trips. Criteria, guidance and an application form can be found on our website. Or for more information, email ukraine.grants@scambs.gov.uk

Even small gestures may help to make a big difference to guests who are about to spend Christmas many miles away from their homeland and without their loved ones.

Private Facebook page for young guests

Please remember that a private Facebook group exists, especially for young Ukrainian guests aged 13 to 19, for them to connect, chat and support each other. If you have young guests staying with you, please let them know about the group.

It is administered by South Cambridgeshire District Council with an adult moderator ensuring it’s a safe and secure environment. Please note, this is a group for young Ukrainians, not adults or parents. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/1424735478018690


Drama group for young Ukrainian guests to shine

If you have young Ukrainian guests staying with you who might be interested in joining Drama Classes in the new year, then please ask them to get in touch.

The classes would be for children/teenagers of 9 to 15 years old, running on Thursdays in the first and third week of each month from 3:45pm – 5:15pm. The agenda includes a physical warm-up, drama activities and games to encourage different ways of communication and entertainment and allowing hidden talents to shine. To register an interest, email Sheila Gosling on sheeba3434@hotmail.com

Support groups in South Cambs

The website H.A.Y. South Cambs! How Are You? promotes positive mental health in our area with details of all the fantastic organisations which give support to those experiencing a mental health crisis.

It features a dedicated page for Ukrainian guests and host families Ukrainian Guests and Host Families with details of local groups who can provide your guests with local information, cultural advice and support with English, as well as an opportunity to meet and socialise with others.

If you know of any groups in your village or local area fulfilling a similar role, please encourage them to complete the Community Support for Ukraine form. The website page includes a map making it easier to pinpoint where different support groups are situated.


All hosts will receive information from us relating to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 monthly host and £350 one-off guest payments; plus additional ‘opt-in’ payments of £150 per month which we are paying to hosts in the district to help with extra costs such as rising energy bills. For questions not covered in this update or on our Support for Ukraine webpages, please email duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

Thank you for taking the time to read this latest update. We hope that it is useful for you and your guests, and we thank you for your continued support.


Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council