Ukraine – Support for Ukraine Community Update

Dear hosts, volunteer coordinators and parish council colleagues

We hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing festive break and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and reiterate our heartfelt thanks for all you are doing to help support Ukrainian guests to our district.

This regular ‘Support for Ukraine community update’ will continue to provide our hosts in South Cambridgeshire, as well District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues, with relevant information relating to the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 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.

Updated Hosting Survey

As many of you are aware, the government recently announced changes and additional funding for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. One of the biggest changes is to host payments, which are being extended.

We want to ensure that we have an accurate and up-to-date log of our hosts’ intentions so we can plan our support accordingly. Next week, all hosts will receive an email from us which will include an online survey.

The purpose of this survey is so we can understand the likely duration of your hosting agreement and to provide you with a chance to give us some feedback. We appreciate that hosts have now completed several online surveys for us, but these are vital to us in managing this complex project. We ask that you please complete this survey as soon as you can when you receive it. Thank you once again for your support as hosts, which has helped so many Ukrainian people through the most traumatic of times.

Returning Guests

If your guests originally left your property, but are now wishing to return to you, then please let us know. Notify us on and complete our arrivals form, which can be found here, once your guest/s have arrived.

Campaign for more Hosts

We are still searching for new potential hosts who would like to apply to re-match existing guests through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Our ‘Spare Room’ campaign is run in conjunction with Cambridge City Council, featuring across our social media channels (Facebook  Twitter and 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.

Our pool of hosts stood at over 600 when the Homes for Ukraine scheme first launched last year, but this has now reduced considerably. We need help finding more so that, where possible, Ukrainian guests are able to stay with alternative hosts close to where they have previously been living. Anyone who can offer help simply needs to text ROOM to 88802.

January’s Healthy You Festival

In conjunction with Living Sport and other local city and district councils, we are running a FREE, month-long online health and wellbeing festival Healthy You Virtual Festival 2023 up until 31 January.

All activities will be free, 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.

Help us understand the employment needs of your guests

We would be grateful if you could make your guests aware of our Ukrainian Employment/Skills Survey. This is designed to give us with a picture of how we can best support guests into suitable employment. Ukrainian refugees are able to work in the UK for up to three years and we are collaborating with local partners, communities, and businesses to ensure we understand the barriers they may face in finding suitable employment.

CamRuss – helping guests

Before Christmas, we told you about the first cohort of Ukrainian guests who had completed English classes with The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society (CamRuss), which is supported by South Cambridgeshire District Council. 

The Society’s English language teaching project has been running since guests first started to arrive in our district last April and is supported by more than 30 volunteers and 20 teachers and assistants.

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.

Free weekly English classes – Cottenham, Sawston & Waterbeach

Guests can take advantage of free weekly English lessons in Cottenham, Sawston and Waterbeach via A Learning Place which is working in partnership with the Council.

The lessons for adults and young people take place at Cottenham on Tuesdays from 5:30pm; in Sawston on Thursdays starting at 4:15pm, 5:30pm or 6:45pm; and in Waterbeach on Wednesdays at 4:30pm and 5:40pm.  Younger children are welcome to attend – toys and activities will be provided. Please contact Amy on 07753 282967, or guests can complete our short form if they want to come along.

Other New Year English Courses

A range of new ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses are also available from the WEA (Workers Educational Association) to attend in-person starting this month. Guests can find out which English courses are best for them at two ESOL Skills Check sessions where they can talk in-person to a friendly team who can help.

There is no need to register in advance – guests should just go along to St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, 40-43 St Andrew’s St, Cambridge, CB2 3AR on 11 January, 10am to 3pm, or 13 January, 12pm to 3pm. Or they can register online by visiting

Classes will be at the following times:

Online evening courses will also start to run this month. Guests can register for one of the online Zoom Skills Check meetings below on 12 or 16 January, 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 this month, 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

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

Join in by volunteering

Start the New Year by getting out into your local community as a volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends – it can change lives, fight isolation and improve wellbeing, confidence and skills, while making our communities better places to live. The experience of volunteering can even sometimes lead to, or help with, acquiring paid work.

Ukrainian guests who would like to volunteer can find useful information on the Cambridge Council for Voluntary Services (CCVS) website. The charity also holds virtual coffee mornings where guests can meet someone from a local community group and find out about their work and what volunteering opportunities are available. The next virtual coffee morning is on 11 January. To find out more and register please email

Free bikes available for guests

The Free Bikes for Ukrainians scheme will continue to run in 2023. 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 also 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

Our small grants scheme also continues into 2023 and local groups can still apply for up to £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, for example a number of grants were given for social events leading up to the festive period. Criteria, guidance and an application form can be found on our website. Or for more information, email


All hosts will receive information from us relating to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 monthly host and £350 one-off guest payments from the Government; plus additional ‘opt-in’ payments of £150 per month from this Council which we are paying to hosts in the district to help with extra costs such as rising energy bills. Once hosts have sponsored a guest for one year, their £350 payment from the Government will increase to £500 per month.  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. 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