Ukraine – Update

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. News previously 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 future funding for Homes for Ukraine scheme

Many of you will by now have heard the news (reported in last week’s newsletter) of the further financial support from the Government for the thousands of families who opened up their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country. You can read further details of this on the Government website.

The main points are:

  • Homes for Ukraine hosts are to receive £500 a month as a ‘thank you’ for ongoing support after the first year of sponsorship
  • £150m additional funding for councils across the UK to help support Ukrainian guests move into their own homes and to 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 to reduce homelessness
  • New potential hosts are urged to come forward and apply to re-match existing guests through the scheme.

The national change to increase the host thank you payment takes place once a guest has been sponsored for one year, while the standard thank you payment for hosts will remain at £350 until the one-year mark. This Council’s offer of a £150 opt-in top up thank you payment (in response to the cost-of-living crisis for the first 12 months of hosting) will remain. 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 via a survey which will help us understand how we can continue to provide the best support possible.

Christmas in South Cambs

Here are a few notes about the Christmas period for your guests – please do share the following item with them (also translated below):

Lots of people across the UK will be getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Many of you may be particularly missing home and loved ones at this time of year, as well as Christmas traditions from Ukraine. We hope that you will feel able to share your traditions with your hosts and others in the community, and that you are able to enjoy the festive period with those around you. We thought it might be useful to provide a brief introduction to Christmas in the UK, so you know what to expect.

We hope you have an opportunity to take a break over the festive period and spend time with loved ones.

Різдво в Кембриджі

Багато людей у Великій Британії будуть готуватися до святкування Різдва. Багато з вас, можливо, особливо сумують за домом і близькими в цю пору року, а також за різдвяними традиціями України. Ми сподіваємося, що ви зможете поділитися своїми традиціями з вашими приймаючими сторонами та іншими членами громади, і що ви зможете насолодитися святами з тими, хто вас оточує. Ми подумали, що було б корисно коротко розповісти про Різдво у Великій Британії, щоб ви знали, чого очікувати.

Ми сподіваємося, що у вас буде можливість відпочити впродовж святкових днів та провести час із близькими.

Well done to our Graduates!

Congratulations to the first cohort of our Ukrainian guests who have completed English classes with The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society (CamRuss), which is supported by South Cambridgeshire District Council.  Their achievements were marked with a graduation ceremony last Saturday.

The Society launched its English language teaching project in April as our host families started to welcome the first Ukrainian guests fleeing the war. More than 30 volunteers, supported by 20 teachers and assistants, were involved in delivering the Society’s English classes to 90 students between April and July, followed by another intake of 90 students from September.

CamRuss also runs a Helpline to facilitate communication between Ukrainian refugees and their host families by providing a translation service (Russian, English and Ukrainian). The Helpline on 05603 025975 runs from 9am-6pm weekdays and 10am-5pm on Saturdays. Many other activities and support services are available.

Healthy You Festival – free wellbeing activities in January

In conjunction with Living Sport and other local city and district councils, we are running a FREE, month-long Healthy You Virtual Festival 2023 – an online health and wellbeing festival from 1 to 31 January. We invite you and your guests to pre-register now to receive updates about what’s on in the run up to the festival.

All activities will be free and hosted online, and suitable for beginners. Sessions will include healthy eating workshops; wellbeing during the menopause classes; tasters for activities ranging from Pilates and Yoga to T’ai Chi and Salsa; strength training for the over 50s; and a chance to try out the exercise referral scheme which supports people with long term health conditions to get active. Pre-register online to receive the full timetable and updates about the festival programme.

Free weekly English classes – Cottenham, Sawston and Waterbeach

In partnership with A Learning Place, the Council is providing free, weekly English classes in the following villages:

Cottenham – Tuesdays 17.30

Sawston – Thursdays 16.15, 17.30 and 18.45

Waterbeach – Wednesdays 16.30 and 17.40

 Adults and young people can enrol as learners; younger children are welcome to come along (toys and activities provided). New learners are always welcome; various levels of English can be accommodated- please contact Amy on 07753 282967, or complete our short form:

Other New Year English Courses

Please remind your guests that new ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses are available in the New Year from the WEA (Workers Educational Association). If they would like to talk to someone to work out which English courses would be best for them, then there are two ESOL Skills Check sessions available where they can talk in-person to a friendly team who can help.

There is no need to register in advance – they should just go along to St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, 40-43 St Andrew’s St, Cambridge, CB2 3AR on:

Or they can register for the free English courses they are interested in by visiting The timetable for the classes will be as follows:

ESOL Evening Classes Online

WEA is also starting new ESOL classes online in the evenings from January. Guests who are interested should register at one of the online Zoom Skills Check meetings below on January 12 or 16, 2023. Please register as soon as possible to secure your place via the following links:

If they are unable to register online, please call on 0300 3033464 quoting the course reference number. The timetable for the new online evening class groups will be: 

Entry 1 Mon and Wed 7pm

Entry 2 Tue and Thu 7pm

Entry 3/Level 1 Wed and Thu 6:30pm

Other courses available

From January, WEA will also be offering Level 1 and Level 2 Community Interpreting courses for anyone who speaks more than one language and is interested in volunteering or working as an interpreter and helping their local community.

Skills Check – Community Interpreting Level 1 and Level 2 courses

Skills Check Meetings for Community Interpreting courses are Online via Zoom – Dates:

UK Driving Theory for ESOL Learners – Online course

If your guests don’t have a driving licence, this online course will help them pass the theory test or, if they do have a driving licence from their home country, it will help them understand the fundamental road rules of driving in the UK. It will run from January 16 to March 13, 2023, from 12noon to 2pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. To enrol for free please quote the course reference C2229100 either online at or by ringing 0300 3033464. Citizenship: UK Driving Theory for ESOL Learners (C2229100) (

Campaign for more Hosts

Our ‘Spare Room’ campaign continues to run, encouraging 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. Anyone who can offer help simply needs to text ROOM to 88802.

Reminder: Ukrainian Employment Survey

Please could you make your guests aware of our Ukrainian Employment/Skills Survey. This is designed to help provide us with a picture on how we can best support guests into suitable employment. The Government has confirmed that Ukrainian refugees are able to work in the UK for up to three years. South Cambridgeshire District Council is collaborating with local partners, communities, and businesses to ensure we understand the barriers Ukrainian guests face in finding suitable employment.

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’.

Support activities for young Ukrainian guests

A private Facebook group for young Ukrainian guests aged 13 to 19 has been set up 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. See

Young Ukrainian guests may also be interested in joining Drama Classes in the new year. 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, with physical warm-ups, drama activities and games to encourage different ways of communication. To register an interest, email Sheila Gosling on

… and finally, it’s Panto-time – FREE TICKETS available for guests!

The Cambridge Arts Theatre is offering free tickets to Ukrainian families to see its Christmas panto Dick Whittington and his Cat  on Tuesday 3rd January at 6pm. This is an opportunity for your guests to experience a quintessential British culture tradition (which you may have to explain to them in advance!). Register for free tickets here. The running time is 2hrs and 30mins, including a 20min interval.  Please be aware that there will be loud noises, haze and flashing lights during the performance.

Please note the theatre’s bag policy: In the interest of customer safety, the following items cannot be taken into the auditorium and must be stored in the cloakroom: Rucksacks or backpacks of any size, children’s rucksacks, handbags that can be worn as backpacks, handbags larger than 25cm x 35cm, shopping bags and large items such as holdalls and suitcases. Where possible, patrons should leave their bags at home.


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

Thank you for taking the time to read this latest update. Following a break next week for the Christmas holiday, our newsletter will return on January 5, 2023.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our hosts and guests, and all the many organisations, groups and individuals who have worked so hard during this year to welcome Ukrainian visitors to our district, a very happy and relaxing festive Noel.  Thank you so very much for all your efforts which are truly appreciated. This will be a very difficult period for many of our guests who are unable to see and spend time with their loved ones and are worried for the safety and wellbeing of family members who are enduring extremely dangerous and worrying conditions back in the Ukraine. It will be a time of reflection for all of us and we offer our reassurance of our continuing support and our prayers for a resolution to this awful conflict in the coming New Year.

My kindest regards and best wishes,


Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council