Scam Phone Call – Council Tax Arrears

This was shared by a Peterborough resident in order to protect others – It’s the transcript of a phone call that her Mother received last week:

“You are in debt £1,998 on your Council Tax bill. This issue will be taken to court and you will get house arrested. If you don’t want to resolve this debt in court, you must pay for a solicitor. I can help taking you to the solicitor to solve this Council Tax case. If you don’t get the solicitor or pay the £1,998 debt now, you can get house arrested.”

Luckily, the lady’s daughter was there at the time and when she noticed that her Mother was feeling panicked and confused by the phone call, she took the call and ended it.

They then did exactly the right thing: they contacted the City Council directly where the team confirmed that the lady was fully up-to-date with her Council Tax, that it would NEVER threaten someone with “house arrest” and that it would send out reminder letters if the account was in arrears.

Remember:

Never be Rushed – Take the time to talk to friends and family if you are worried about a cold call approach, whether that has come by phone, mail, online or on the doorstep.

Stay in Control – Make your own enquiries as the lady and her daughter did here.

If you need to phone to check the veracity of a call:

Use a phone number you know and trust, not one the caller gives you.

Make sure the line you use is clear (by leaving 10 mins before phoning, or phoning a friend first), or maybe use a different device. This is to prevent what is known as “no hang up” fraud where the scammer stays on the line.


News release -Friday 2 September 2022

Trial of four-day working week proposed to assess viability for Council

A three-month trial of a four-day week could begin in January for desk-based staff at South Cambridgeshire District Council – as a similar pilot of over 3,300 staff continues at more than 70 UK organisations.

Experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic mean people now think differently about work-life priorities; nationally and locally it is harder than ever to recruit and retain staff.

A report outlines how, if Cabinet members agree to the trial, the Council will closely monitor what impact it has on services for residents and businesses. These service levels cannot drop if a four-day week is to be considered as a viable option in the longer term.

To monitor service levels during the trial, the Council would use its standard set of statistics which are regularly updated. These keep a check on things like how long it takes the Council to process benefits claims, Council house rent collections, how fast planning applications are determined, staff turnover, call answering times and more. Industry-standard health and wellbeing surveys will also be used to measure success and be compared against the results from a survey carried out last month (August 2022) before the four-day week trial was announced to staff. The next steps, which could include a longer trial period, would be dependent on the performance of Council services during the first three months of 2023.      

As part of the trial, the Council would also look to extend the hours that it is open to the public via a soon-to-be-launched webchat service or Teams / Zoom meetings.

For more than a year, the Council has only been able to fill around eight out of every ten (or fewer) of its vacancies. Between January and March 2022, only around half were filled. There are currently 23 agency staff covering office-based roles, which should ideally be filled by people in permanent positions. Over a whole year, these agency staff could cost the Council more than £2million. If the Council filled all these posts with permanent staff, it would only cost around £1million per year.

Not being able to fill vacant posts – or switching between agency staff to cover them – is also disruptive to services for residents. For example, when case officers change during the process of a planning application, it can cause delays and frustration because a lot of context and institutional memory is lost.

This has led to the Council looking at the viability of a four-day week through a proposed trial between January and March next year. A four-day week is when people work one less day per week but still get paid the same salary. It is not the same as compressed hours, which is working the traditional 40-hour week over four long days.

A four-day week, which for a full-time employee at the Council would consist of 30 hours, can make an organisation stand out from others and be more attractive to talent. It is also seen as a tangible incentive to encourage staff to stay.

Another aspiration of the trial is to investigate whether it would help the Council to attract a more diverse workforce. For example, for those families where childcare costs can be a big blocker from working, or those people with caring responsibilities, it could be a more attractive option than the traditional five-day working week model. This is because the cost of childcare or caring could be reduced, which can also help support wider cost of living rises.

The proposals that will be discussed at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 12 September 2022 recommend that a three-month trial for desk-based staff takes place between January and March 2023. There are around 470 staff at the Council who would be able to take part. There would be a three-month planning period beforehand. If successful, a trial of the Council’s blue-collar workers, such as bin collection crews, would follow later next year.

The 4 Day Week Campaign started a trial involving about 70 companies in the UK back in June this year (2022). That trial covers around 3,300 employees. There are also trials either underway or soon to be started in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Research from Henley Business School shows that those organisations offering a four-day week benefit from an improved ability to attract and retain talent.

Numerous studies and trials by big companies such as Microsoft in Japan and Buffer in the USA have shown that a four-day week increases productivity.

The Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, said: “The trial would be all about seeing if a four-day week has the same positive impact on productivity, staff wellbeing and recruitment in Local Government, as seen elsewhere. As a Council we are leading the way on this; it could be truly ground-breaking for local councils nationally. We only filled around half our vacancies during the first few months of this year and using temporary agency staff in these office roles costs us more than £2million a year. We know that if we instead filled those roles permanently, it would only cost around £1million a year. As we look for solutions to these issues, these proposals suggest a robust, evidence-based trial for three months. Of course, it must be a trial that works for our residents and businesses too.

“Attracting and retaining staff is an issue for most councils. Therefore, along with lots of organisations from around the world, we think this is something that is worth investigating. Not only could it help with the wellbeing and retention of our existing staff, but I am hugely keen that we open ourselves up as an employer to a more diverse workforce. As a carer to my 92-year-old mother, I realise just how costly caring can be. The same can of course be said of childcare. If we can reduce the burden of these sorts of costs, which will also help with the cost of living, we could become an employer of choice for far more people who for very valid reasons simply cannot work the standard 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.”

Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “The decision by South Cambridgeshire District Council to outline plans to become the first ever UK local authority to trial a four-day week is historic and should be applauded. This move could benefit thousands of workers, improve productivity, and help to tackle the job recruitment crisis in Local Government. We hope this trial, if approved, results in many more councils across the country embracing the four-day week.”

Cabinet members will decide whether to proceed with the three-month trial of a four-day working week on Monday 12 September 2022. If the trial is approved, the Council’s Employment and Staffing Committee will receive update reports and be asked to report back with recommendations following the end of the trial.

Ends

Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 01 September 2022

Dear Parish council colleagues and volunteer coordinators

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.

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

Update on emails concerning ‘Expressions of Interest’ in being hosts

Over the past week, you may have received an email from the Home Office with regards to Expressions of Interest in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This email asked you to complete a form to notify the Home Office if you are still interested in becoming a host. There is no reason to be concerned by this email. If you have received this email and are already hosting a Ukrainian guest, there could be a duplicate Expression of Interest record for you in the Home Office system.

South Cambridgeshire District Council sent out a similar email on Wednesday 24th August to hosts who have signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme but have not yet been matched with a guest. Our email asks you to complete one of two forms, either to notify us if you wish to be considered as a potential host, or to let us know if you wish to be removed from the scheme. These forms are for different purposes and will reside in different databases, so please complete one of the forms circulated by us on the 24th August AND respond to the form from the Home Office. This ensures that records are as up to date as possible across the board.

Leavers form for when guests depart

As current hosts will be aware, when your guests arrive at your home, we ask you to complete an online form to notify us that your guests have arrived. This initiates the process of welcome payments and also allows us to track who is here. We have now created a ‘Leavers’ form, which will work in the same way as the arrivals form, but is a place for hosts to report that their guests have vacated their property. If your guests are no longer with you, and you have not yet informed us, please complete the form by clicking this link.

More learning opportunities for guests

Last week, we gave information on three courses run by the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) which can help Ukrainian guests settle into the UK, understand their new surroundings and give them the tools with which to access the jobs market and improve their employment prospects and confidence.

The WEA courses are supported and funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA). Applicants must be aged19+ as of 1st August 2022. All Ukrainian adults and their family members supported through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Schemeare immediately eligible to join the courses if they are claiming benefits or are on a low income (under £21,000).

Courses include: 

Community Interpreting Pathway – Initial Assessments for Community Interpreting level 1 and level 2 – via Zoom

Date: 07/09/2022 Time: 09:30 to 12:30 https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk/Online/2022/CourseInfo.aspx?r=C2228989

Date: 07/09/2022 Time: 18:30 to 21:00

https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk/Online/2022/CourseInfo.aspx?r=C2228990

Date: 08/09/2022 Time: 14:00 to 17:00

https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk/Online/2022/CourseInfo.aspx?r=C2228991

Vital to the support and growth of the community, interpreters enable others to have a voice and to feel safe and understood. The Community Interpreting courses will help you learn the skills and abilities to become a community interpreter and to support those around you. Attending one of the above mentioned online sessions for initial assessment will help to gauge your level of English and your motivation to see if you are able to complete either the ‘Understanding the role of a Community Interpreter’ (Level 1) or ‘Preparation for Work in Community Interpreting Level 2’.

Career Guidance Session for Ukrainian refugees (in partnership with the Cambridge Russian Speaking Society)

Date: 13/09/2022 Time: 11:00 in person at St Andrews Street Baptist Church in Cambridge. From this session, it will be possible to progress to the

Employability Skills Course Online (CV writing, interview skills, job market) C2229068 mentioned in last week’s newsletter: Dates: 20/09/2022 – 18/10/2022 Tuesdays 10am, 5 sessions for 2 hrs per session via Zoom, designed to help students who are new to the UK to apply for jobs by giving support and guidance to compile a CV and covering letter and to practice interview skills. Students will be fully supported to apply for jobs and will be guided in the best places to find job advertisements.

More ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) Courses

Dates:

08/09/2022 Ref: C2229004

209/09/2022 Ref: C2229005

12/09/2022 Ref: C2229006

These are initial assessment sessions which are required before joining the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses and are conducted online.

Face to Face ESOL courses will be available soon.

Courses are also available as part of the Schools and Parenting Pathway –

Introduction to Support and Teaching in Schools (L1 non accredited)

Dates: 02/11/2022 – 14/12/2022

Other courses starting in September will include Introduction to Specific Learning Difficulties, Child Psychology, Introduction to ADHD, Introduction to Speech, Language and Communication needs, Helping with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

Other courses which may also be of interest are:

Digital Skills:

21/09/2022 Taster: Marketing for Starting Your Own Business Ref: C2229040

28/09/2022 – 02/11/2022 Marketing for Starting Your Own Business Ref: C22229041

09/11/2022 Taster: Web Design for Starting Your Own Business: Beginners Ref: C2229042

16/11/2022 – 14/12/2022 Web Design for Starting Your Own Business: Beginners Ref: C2229043

Health and Wellbeing:

04/10/2022 – 18/10/2022 Combating Loneliness course Ref: C2229126

08/11/2022 – 13/12/2022 Creativity for Wellbeing course Ref: C2229126

Anyone interested in the WEA courses can register either online or by calling 0300 3033464. For more details, search by reference number for the courses mentioned above at https://enrolonline.wea.org.uk

A reminder of other courses mentioned in last week’s newsletter are:

Cambridgeshire – Welcome to the UK C2229132  

Start date: 14/10/2022, Fridays 10am via Zoom

Designed to help learners have a good understanding of British culture, history, traditions, laws and customs, and to feel confident about living in the UK.

Cambridgeshire – Supporting Employment Opportunities for ESOL Learners C2229133

Start date: 14/10/2022, Fridays 12:30pm via Zoom

Designed to support students in successfully gaining a job and give confidence to ESOL learners to progress from the course to find employment or to go into Further Education and to develop their employment prospects and confidence.

Free courses in Cambridge and Huntingdon

Cambridge Regional College, which has campuses at Kings Hedges Road in
Cambridge (CB4 2QT) and California Road in Huntingdon (PE29 1BL), also has free courses available.

They include ESOL courses, Skills for Employment, and Training and Skills Qualifications. The Huntingdon courses are particularly handy location-wise for those living in South Cambridgeshire parishes closer to Huntingdon who may struggle to get into Cambridge.

The college has online brochures in Ukrainian as well as in English.  Details of the courses and how to apply can be found at https://www.camre.ac.uk/student-support/refugee-and-resettlement-support/

Conversational English Café

The Council is collaborating with local bi-lingual volunteers to establish conversational English cafés where guests are invited to come and chat to improve their spoken English.

Unfortunately, due to the summer vacation, we have not had many volunteers come forward.  We are putting out a final call for volunteers.  If you or anyone you know  speaks English/Ukrainian/Russian and is eager to volunteer once a week in the Waterbeach area to begin with, please let us know by emailingDuty.Communities@scambs.gov.uk.

Summer School for Ukrainians

A seven-week Summer School for Ukrainian guests at Ickleton Village Hall, which started at the beginning of August, will continue to run for the next few weeks. It is a daily in-depth English language course running Monday to Friday with three separate classes being conducted by a Ukrainian teacher, Inna from Mariupol. Inna has lots of materials to help with conversational English and grammar and structure too.

Class 1 – Absolute beginners, 1 hour long, small class size (currently 2-3 people taking part) to ensure deep learning

Class 2 – Beginners who can read, 2 hours long (about 8 people)

Class 3 – Intermediate, 2 hours long (about 9 people).

Some scheduling may change as children go back to school next week, but classes are currently in the afternoons. For more information, contact Steve Parsons (in English) at steve_parsons@hotmail.com or Inna (in Ukrainian) at innaakul15@gmail.com

Enjoy a free group visit to Wimpole Hall

The Wimpole Estate, a National Trust property to the south-west of Cambridge, is offering local community groups free admission to the estate and its facilities. A visit to its gardens, the estate and Wimpole Hall provides an enjoyable day out as well as promoting health and wellbeing.

The Community Group Admission Pass will give free access to the Estate for up to 16 people and can be used on any day except bank holidays and the weekends preceding bank holidays.  

Those working with or running community groups for Ukrainian guests and their hosts are asked to email wimpolehall@nationaltrust.org.uk or call the estate before coming, stating the name of your group, the number of people and approximate time of arrival.  Please complete an application form, which can be found here, and return it with your email. Where practical, community groups are encouraged to visit during weekdays as Wimpole can get very busy at weekends when there may be less scope to cater for additional needs. 

Wimpole Estate consists of a historic mansion, beautiful gardens, a show farm and extensive parkland, there is plenty of free parking for cars and minibuses, a visitor reception centre, electric buggies to assist people with limited mobility, as well as cafes and shops.  For more information visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate.

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

Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council

Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 11 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 for 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

Online forum supporting hosts with traumatised Ukrainian guests

The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice(AFT) is running some online forums for hosts to share ideas on how to help guests who are facing psychological trauma. 

The virtual meetings, hosted by Family and Systemic Psychotherapists, will offer 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. In many cases they may also experience a sense of dislocation from their own culture and tradition.

The exact content of the session will be decided on the evening by those who come but may include 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.

The first session will be on Wednesday 24 August 7-9pm and hosts will need to register for free tickets.  Please come prepared to share your own experiences and prepared to think with others about their dilemmas.

Warning for Ukrainian guests to guard against scams

Scammers work at all levels in our society, and no-one is immune from their illegal activities, including Ukrainian guests. One incident which has come to our attention is of two female refugees being told they would have their refugee status revoked if they didn’t each pay up £350.  Please do warn your guests to be vigilant, particularly online. General information on how to spot and avoid scams is available from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP) which works with public, private and voluntary sector organisations to stop scams and doorstep crime across the county.

Children’s Books in Ukrainian

Cambridgeshire Libraries now has a collection of brand new children’s books in Ukrainian. Those wishing to borrow books can pop into the Cambridge Central Library and have a browse. Collections are also available at St Ives and Ely libraries.

Alternatively, guests can request books for free on a child’s library card to be delivered to their local library anywhere in Cambridgeshire and pick them up from there. You can find the locations of local libraries here Your library – Cambridgeshire County Council    You can also browse the library service’s e-book selection on Libby

Help with medical costs via the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS)

Ukrainian guests may be able to access help for medical costs via the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).

The scheme can help with:

  • costs for NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental treatment
  • the cost of sight tests, glass and contact lenses
  • the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports.

To apply for the NHS LIS, guests need to complete an HC1 form. If the application is successful, then either an HC2 certificate will be issued (for full help with health costs) or an HC3 certificate will be issued (for limited health with health costs). The certificates detail how much they will have to pay towards their health costs.

If guests have already paid for their prescriptions and later find that they are eligible for free prescriptions, they can apply for full or partial reimbursement of prescription costs depending on income.  Receipts for any prescription costs must be submitted in evidence.

If they do not qualify for free prescriptions, and are resident in England, they can buy a pre-payment prescription (PPCs) from the NHS.  A three or 12-month PPC covers all prescriptions for that period, no matter how many they need. Prescriptions currently cost £9.35 per item, but a PPC costs £30.25 for three months or £108.10 for 12 months. It is possible to pay in ten monthly instalments if they buy a 12-month PPC.

Looking for a local dentist

With a fall in the number of dentists practising in the UK, many patients are struggling to get dental treatment.  If your guests are looking to make an appointment with a local dentist, you may find the NHS Find a Dentist site helpful.

If urgent dental treatment is required, then contact NHS 111, who will be able to direct you to a dentist for urgent care.    

Patients are entitled to free NHS dental treatment if they are:-

  • Under 18 years of age
  • Pregnant
  • Have had a baby within the last 12 months
  • Are in prison or a young offender’s institution.

Free NHS dental treatment is also available to anyone who has an HC2 or HC3 certificate under the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS) – see details above on how to apply. However, guests should continue to pay for any treatment carried out until they find out they are eligible under the NHS LIS and their exemptions are confirmed.

If guests receive treatment and find out within three months of the treatment that they are entitled to receive free or reduced cost NHS dental treatment, they can claim a refund.

For more information, visit www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-dental-costs or email to

nhsbsa.dentalservices@nhsbsa.nhs.uk 

Reminder: High demand for free bicycles

The scheme to offer free bikes for Ukrainian guests via Owl Bikes (part of the Papworth Trust), Camtrust and Tag Bikes, is continuing to work well, although due to the high demand we request that you bear with us if you or your guests have applied and are still waiting to hear. If you have already applied, there is no need to contact us. We would also encourage any residents with spare bikes they no longer need to offer them to Camtrust or TAG Bikes (Owl Bikes is currently working on the stock they have in hand). Donations of unwanted helmets, spare tyres and parts would also be welcomed.  

Ukrainian guests who are keen to get out and about on their bikes can join with the CTC Cambridge cycling club where experienced riders from the group will buddy up with guests to help them get to know the area’s roads. Email secretary@ctccambridge.org.uk if your guests would like to take advantage of this offer. 

Support Scheme for visiting Ukrainian Postgraduate Research Students and Academics

The Ukrainian Academic Support Scheme – which has been set up to support colleagues from Ukrainian Universities and other Higher Education Institutions who are seeking refuge from the war – has now closed to ‘registration of interest’.  However, the scheme hopes to reopen for ‘registration of interest’ again in the future. 

The scheme is providing funding for up to 20 Postgraduate research students and academics from Ukraine, irrespective of nationality, to continue their studies and research in Cambridge for a period between 6 to 12 months. It offers financial support, accommodation and access to a range of university services. Applicants are expected to remain employed (academics) or enrolled (Postgraduate Research students) at their home institution in Ukraine.

More details can be found on the University of Cambridge website.

Reminder: Bi-lingual host, community member or guest needed

We are still looking for a bi-lingual adult who would be prepared to volunteer as a moderator for a Facebook group for young Ukrainian people aged 16 to 19. The page would offer a safe place where they can connect and provide support for one another. Anyone with a background in safeguarding, such as a doctor, teacher, or social worker, would be ideal. If you are interested, please contact us via email here.

… and finally – an Outdoor Family Gathering for Ukrainian guests

There will be an outdoor family gathering for Ukrainian guests from across Cambridgeshire in the Orchard area at Milton Country Park this Sunday 14 August, from 12noon to 4pm.  Activities will include creative masterclasses for children, face painting and fun contests for all ages, plus refreshments will be available. This is a chance for Ukrainian guests to have a social get-together in wonderful summer weather. All are welcome. Directions of how to get to the park (bus, park & ride, cycle) can be found here.

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

Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council

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Bin collections during the hot weather

During the forecast extremely hot weather, please ensure your bins are put out the night before they are due to be collected. This is because Greater Cambridge Shared Waste crews are likely to be starting work earlier in the day than usual, to try and avoid the worst of the heat. This means your bins may get emptied earlier in the morning than you are used to

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 duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

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 DBS.Scambs@scambs.gov.uk

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 hello@alearningplace.co.uk

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 duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk

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 scdcrecruitment@scambs.gov.uk 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 (haysouthcambs.co.uk), 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 info@camtrust.co.uk.

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 https://bit.ly/3BhXHBB 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 (scambs.gov.uk)

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 (scambs.gov.uk)

Charitable organisation appeal from homesforukraine.org

The charity homesforukraine.org 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 www.homesforukraine.org 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 ukraine.grants@scambs.gov.uk

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

Bill

Bill Handley

Lead Cabinet Member for Communities

South Cambridgeshire District Council

IMPORTANT NEWS ABOUT BIN COLLECTIONS DURING THE CURRENT HOT SPELL

During the forecast extremely hot weather, please ensure your bins are put out the night before they are due to be collected. This is because Greater Cambridge Shared Waste crews will be starting work earlier in the day than usual, to try and avoid the worst of the heat. This means your bins may get emptied earlier in the morning than you are used to.

South Cambs – update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine 9th June 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.

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 directly 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

Host payments: A reminder

We have recently had a few enquiries about host payments, so thought it would be worth reminding you about how they work. Monthly host payments are paid in arrears during the first week of each month. Where a guest has moved in during the previous month, the £350 payment is calculated on a pro rata basis. If you have any questions about these payments, please just send an email to ukrainepayments@scambs.gov.uk

Advice and support for guests when they move on from their host’s household

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, hosts have committed to providing accommodation for guests for a minimum of six months, but hosts may wish to continue with the arrangement beyond the initial six months if both parties wish to. If hosts do not want to continue the arrangement beyond six months (or at any time after that), they should let their guest(s) know in plenty of time so they can make other arrangements. Hosts should give notice to guests two months before either the end of the first six month period or at any date afterwards).

Guests will have access to public funds and, after leaving your home, will be able to rent a property like anyone else. If they need to, they’ll be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. The UK Government has useful information on renting property which is available in the How to Rent Guide.

If guests need further support, we can support them to help them find alternative accommodation. We can:

  • Provide advice to help them rent privately
  • Support applications for Universal Credit and other benefits
  • Work with other organisations to give advice and support for tenancies
  • See if any of our private sector self-contained or shared properties are available and a good fit for guests’ needs
  • Give details of our Tenancy Deposit and Rent In Advance schemes. These schemes can help those guests who are not in work or on low incomes to rent privately
  • Consider shared housing and lodging options as an affordable way to find new accommodation
  • Give advice on joining the housing register for social housing. Guests need to be made aware that they should not rely only on council housing as a route to getting accommodation due to high demand and a general lack of social housing
  • We can refer people to Emmaus and other charities who can help with furniture should guests find themselves suitable unfurnished accommodation at the end of the scheme
  • More information can also be found on the homelessness advice pages of our website.

Our housing team advises that:

  • Guests start saving as soon as they are able with a view to being able to pay part or whole of the cost of moving out when the time comes
  • Hosts and guests have open and honest conversations together, particularly if hosts do not wish to continue beyond the first six months. This will give guests the time to consider, with our support, their options.

As a last resort and in the event that all avenues have been unsuccessful and guests have to leave without having somewhere else to go, they are entitled to make a homeless application to the Council. This process is the same for anyone and may not always result in a positive or rapid outcome. Getting in touch with us at the earliest opportunity will give both the Council and the guests more time to consider the options.

Bicycle training for guests

You may have already noted that we are working with two local charities, The Papworth Trust and Camtrust, to offer people who are staying in South Cambridgeshire under the Homes for Ukraine scheme a free bicycle. As part of this initiative, we are also offering guests a free Bikeability cycle training course, which will include a translator. All guests who have requested a bicycle under this scheme, and who have requested a place on one of these courses, have been emailed to confirm that we will be back in touch once the course dates are confirmed. In the meantime, we also want to highlight the useful and free Transport for London online cycle skills course which guests may find beneficial. If you have any questions about our free bicycle scheme, please email emma.dyer@scambs.gov.uk

A guide for parents about the education system in England

We have recently added some new guidance to our online Ukrainian Guest Information Hub. This is guidance available from The Bell Foundation for parents on how to get involved in school life and to help their child to learn. There are guides to several useful topics, covering primary and secondary education. These guides are in a number of languages including Ukrainian and Russian.

The WEA – Adult Education

New ESOL courses – Referrals welcome to start courses in September.

The WEA’s (Workers’ Educational Association) offer local ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses that teach learners how to speak, listen, read and write in English. Their course in June, which is specifically for Ukrainian refugees, is now fully booked but the WEA is now taking referrals for ESOL courses starting in September. Please direct referrals to cambs@wea.org.uk

Free Courses starting 10 June: Spaces available now

There are two more adult education courses especially for Ukrainian refugees, aimed at helping them settle in in the UK and prepare them to find a job. These courses are designed for speakers of other languages and, even if their English is very basic, they can still join. The free courses, mentioned below, start on Friday (10 June).

Anyone interested in the courses below can register either online by clicking on the links below, or by calling 0300 303 34 64.

Cambridgeshire – Welcome to the UK C2228910

Start date: 10/06/2022

End date: 22/07/2022

Fridays at 10am via Zoom

This course is designed to help the learners to have a good understanding of British culture, history, traditions, laws, and customs. It will help you to reach this understanding and feel confident about living in the UK. And also, the fundamental principles of British Life, including, democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the beliefs and participation in community life.

Cambridgeshire – Supporting Employment Opportunities for ESOL Learners C2228911

Start date: 10/06/2022

End date: 22/07/2022

Fridays 12:30 pm via Zoom

The purpose of this course is to support students in successfully gaining a job, progressing in a chosen field, and preparing students for further study. A course is designed to assist and to give confidence to ESOL learners to progress from the course to find Employment or to go into Further Education and also to develop their employment prospects and confidence.

You can also keep up to date with other WEA courses on their website.

Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society – CamRuSS

The key initiatives from the Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society at present are as follows:

  • A helpline to facilitate communication between Ukrainian refugees and their host families, which is 056 0302 5975 – please also see attached pdf
  • English language and cultural adaptation sessions
  • Social meetings.

Further details on the above are available via the Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society website.

Ukrainians Welcome website

You may find it useful to pass on information from the Ukrainians Welcome website. There is a guide to staying safe in the UK. Ukrainians Welcome is a joint initiative of British organisations fighting slavery and promoting human rights. Its aim is to provide useful information on security and life in general for displaced Ukrainians in the UK. The site is funded by the Freedom Fund.

Mobile phones for guests

It is worth remembering that lots of mobile phone companies are offering free SIM cards for mobile phones. Their offers change regularly so please check with phone providers directly. Now that local community networks are established, they may want to support guests; one way that communities may be able to help could be by identifying any old / unused phones which local residents have spare, which could be provided to guests via their hosts.

Event in Swavesey this weekend

Finally, we wanted to let you know about an event in Swavesey on this coming Saturday (12 June) which organisers have asked us to tell you about. The first takes place at 3:30pm at St Andrew’s Church in Swavesey and is an informal social for Ukrainian families and their hosts. The event is part of the ‘Jubilee Sing’ celebration being run by Swavesey Community Choir at the same venue from 4:30pm. Details of both events are in the attached infographics.

That rounds off our latest update. I wish to thank you once again for your continued support.

Update -south Cambs – Homes for Ukraine – paid roles to support programme

South Cambs have received an amazing response to their call for help and would like to thank everyone who has come forward. They are now not looking for any additional applications.


Due to the generosity of local communities, South Cambridgeshire is the district area with the highest number of visas granted in the country. This means the number of arrivals is high. The Council’s housing officers have been carrying out the welfare checks to ensure hosts and guests are settling in. However, as re-matching is now also being carried out by the Council, we need to bring in extra resources in paid roles and are looking for people with the right skills who would consider joining the team carrying out this important work.

South Cambs know many people want to support the scheme locally who may not have been able to be a host. You may know of people with the skills they are looking for. Maybe you are retired or not in work now but would be keen to commit to a role to help deliver this important work.

What South Cambs are looking for?

  • Commitment to work at least 3 days a week, up to full time, for one year
  • Good communicator
  • Previous experience or knowledge in safeguarding would be advantageous
  • Good listener and ability to empathise and give advice to Ukrainian guests who may be suffering from trauma
  • The ability to travel using own car all over South Cambridgeshire to visit the homes of hosts
  • Ability to use Council translating services to support conversations with guests where necessary
  • Good attention to detail to ensure information from visits is logged correctly and any issues reported and referred to relevant service
  • Confidence to ask guests or hosts further questions to uncover underlying issues
  • Sensitivity to cultural differences and able to put people with a variety of backgrounds at ease
  • Confidence working with basic Microsoft computer programmes such as Word, Excel and Outlook as spreadsheets are used for recording and collating information

They are looking for people who can start quickly to support the team.


Anyone wanting to find out more should email Susan and Dan on susan.hinawski@scambs.gov.uk and Daniel.toussaint@scambs.gov.uk. Please include in your message that you are interested in the role and provide your contact details. Susan or Dan will call you back as soon as possible to discuss the role.

South Cambs – Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine

Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 13 May 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 as new and relevant information becomes available, both to hosts in South Cambridgeshire, and to District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues. The idea is to share all the latest updates that we have on support for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

All information previously shared can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpages.

Hosts also receive information from us directly related to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 (host) and £200 (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

Support for Ukraine Zoom meeting – yesterday evening

Yesterday evening we held a Zoom meeting for hosts and others supporting guests from Ukraine. Apologies to any of our newest hosts who may not have received an invitation to this event ahead of time. For anyone who was not able to attend, you can watch the event recording here.

Headlines from the session

  • We rely on hosts to inform us when your guests have arrived. We cannot make the £350 host / £200 guest payments until you have alerted us that your guests are living with you, and we also need to know they have arrived to be able to kick-start other processes and keep our records up to date. Please use this form to alert us once your guests have arrived at your home.
  • We are urging hosts to think about what support may be helpful to you in the coming weeks and months to help ensure positive ongoing relationships with guests, and to help hosts avoid burnout. Please try to have a think about what practical support you would benefit from and send your ideas to us by email to duty.communities@Scambs.gov.uk
  • It was great to hear first-hand from one of our current hosts, who spoke about the benefit of having an honest conversation up front about the host-guest relationship and their new situation. Since hosts and guests may often be from quite different cultures, they suggested that an open discourse is the best way to maintain a positive relationship in the coming weeks and months.

Updates to our welcome pack since our last email

A reminder that our ‘welcome pack’ for guests is digital and can be viewed on our website – where guests should be able to switch to view in their own language if they wish, and where we can ensure updates are added as needed. You canview our digital welcome pack on our guest webpages here. The remainder of this email update sets out only the latest updates to the welcome pack, so if you have not previously visited our webpages, we would suggest that is the best place to start for information for guests.

Cambridge4Ukraine – regular meetups in Cambridge for guests

The Cambridge4Ukraine initiative invites all Ukrainians that have moved to Cambridgeshire because of the war to visit our Ukrainian coffee and conversation meetings. These meetings are for the local Ukrainian community and all new arrivals to meet, share important information, and support each other. Meetings will take place in the Downing Place United Reformed Church cafeteria space (Downing St., Cambridge CB2 3EL) every Saturday at 12pm. Any changes will be communicated via Cambridge4Ukraine social networks (Twitter Cambridge4Ukr, Instagram @cambridge4ukraine). The meetings are organised by Cambridge4Ukraine initiative, in collaboration with Cambridge University Ukrainian Society.

Cambridge4Ukraine – employment support

Cambridge4Ukraine has also set up a small sub-group to offer support in finding work to people arriving from Ukraine. For further information please email jobs.help@cambridge4ukraine.uk. There’s much more information about employment support in our digital welcome pack for guests.

Mental health and emotional support

This week we have updated the digital welcome pack for guests with information about NHS mental health support, and an offer from the Refugee Council, which is providing one-to-one counselling, group counselling, and group outings (further information is also attached to this email in both English and Ukrainian). There is existing information available too about support from Barnardo’s and the British Red Cross.

Physical health – updates added this week

You will already be aware that Ukrainian refugees will be guaranteed free access to NHS healthcare on a similar basis as other UK residents. Easy-read information has been added this week on:

  • how to register with a GP
  • the support available from a pharmacy or minor injury unit
  • how to access medication and costs of prescriptions
  • maternity care and services
  • costs of dental care
  • and access to eye care.

Guests can contact Healthwatch Cambridgeshire if they feel that they are being denied the ability to access healthcare. The number to call is 0330 355 1285.

Education

Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for providing school places, and information about how to do this can be found as part of our digital welcome pack for guests (linking to the County Council website). We have, this week, added further information to set out early years provision (with explanations about different types of providers such as pre-school, childminders and day nurseries, as well as how places are funded and how to apply). Anyone who is encountering problems finding school places can email the admissions team: SPOS.Admissions@cambridgeshire.gov.uk 

Support from the Department for Work and Pensions

Attached to this email is a PDF from the Department for Work and Pensions which provides an easy-read introduction to topics such as ‘Applying for Universal Credit’, ‘Applying for Pension Credit’, ‘Applying for Personal Independence Payments’, ‘Applying for Child Disability Allowance’. It also outlines ‘What is a National Insurance number?’ and a raft of support that is available for any guests who are looking to work here. If your guests may find this useful, please feel free to share this with them.

Information and support on recognition of professional qualifications

Ukrainian people who work in a regulated profession may need to have their professional qualifications formally recognised in the UK. The UK Centre for Professional Qualifications provides a free service which explains whether a profession is regulated and any entry requirements. Call 0871 226 2850, or email offerwork@homeoffice.gov.uk

Immigration information for Ukrainians in the UK

On 9 May, the Home Office published new immigration information about the next steps Ukrainians need to take after arriving in the UK. This includes information about what Ukrainians need to do to confirm their immigration status, how to demonstrate their status to access work, and the benefits and services they are entitled to. Translated versions will be available in Ukrainian and Russian shortly.

Homes for Ukraine: Updated ‘Week one guidance’ published

The Government has produced new ‘Week one guidance’ which includes a shorter and more accessible guide to services Ukrainians may need in their first week in the UK. The Government has also updated the welcome guide for Ukrainians which includes information on getting used to life in the UK including how to find a home, access essential public services, healthcare, find work and childcare and education services.

Homes for Ukraine: new guidance published for organisations and businesses

Last week the Government published guidance as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme:

The government has also published guidance for businesses considering making offers of employment to people coming to the UK from Ukraine.

South Cambs – Update for those supporting refugees from Ukraine – 29 April 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 as new and relevant information becomes available, both to hosts in South Cambridgeshire, and to District Councillors, community coordinators and parish council colleagues. The idea is to share all the latest updates that we have on support for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. All information previously shared can be found on our Support for Ukraine webpages. Hosts also receive information from us directly related to DBS checks, accommodation checks, £350 (host) and £200 (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

You may be interested to hear that we have looked at the latest data published by the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and South Cambridgeshire as an area has had 372 visas issued as of 26 April. This is the tenth highest number of visas issued for any area in the country. This is also the highest number for a District Council area.  A big thank you from us to hosts and communities for stepping forwards so readily to support this programme.

Support for Ukraine: Zoom meeting: Thursday 12 May from 6pm to 7:30pm

As part of our offer around the Homes for Ukraine scheme, we want to engage with hosts (and eventually their guests) and facilitate various means of support. As you will by now know, we have started this via our new private Facebook groups (please see more about these groups later in this newsletter). 

In the same vein, we will be holding a Zoom meeting, for hosts, community support groups, guests and local district and county elected members on Thursday 12 May from 6pm to 7:30pm. Some of the content at the meeting is likely to be more focussed on hosts as we will run through our approach to the scheme and the processes we have been putting in place, as well as having partners from health and education, our own Business Support team and Cambridge University speak about access to services and support they can offer. However, the event should be helpful to a wide range of people. And of course, hosts are welcome to have their guests join them on the call.

We will also be asking what kind of support hosts and their guests would like to see from us in the coming weeks and months. We know from our experiences throughout the COVID pandemic that community groups have stepped forward to help and in many cases are doing so to support Ukrainian guests, and we want anything we do to complement that. We are proposing to facilitate some more local face to face meetings for hosts and guests, with information about what is available more locally, and where you and your guests can meet in person. You may have ideas about what would make such events useful to you and we’ll be inviting you to share these, as well as your other ideas, on the day.

The link to join the meeting is here.  The passcode is 558068 but it is not always required. Please contact us if you need help ahead of time with queries about Zoom and we will be happy to try to help. We look forward to seeing you there.

Bus travel for guests

We have been contacted by hosts who have been told by Stagecoach that local councils can provide bus passes or a code which will provide guests with access to free bus travel. I am sorry to say that this is not the case; there is currently no scheme in place that facilitates free bus travel for guests who are part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. We understand from talking to Stagecoach that they had initially provided some limited free bus travel for a small number of guests, but they were unaware of the number of guests who could come to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which meant it was not feasible to do so for all of them on an ongoing basis. We are pleased to say that Stagecoach now has a better understanding of the local position on guest numbers, and they remain keen to support guests as they settle into their new home in a way that is viable for them as a business. They will be coming back to us as soon as possible with further information and we will share this with you as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, we are of course providing guests with a pre-paid Mastercard (the £200 per guest arrival payment) that could be used to purchase bus travel on-board. The Stagecoach website states: “Contactless payment cards issued for Visa, Mastercard and Maestro can be used. Pre-paid contactless payment cards can be used but please make sure they have enough credit on them before boarding.” We also have feedback that some guests have used the card for this purpose.

We are sorry for any mixed messages that may have reached hosts and guests on bus travel and caused confusion.

Visa applications

We have been contacted by a number of hosts regarding visa applications for their expected Ukrainian guests. The information we are provided by the Home Office only gives us very limited details of visa applications and therefore we are not able to provide any updates to hosts or guests. We would ask hosts and guests to be patient and contact the Home Office through the channels available in the application process. We have contacted our local MPs and the Local Government Association to ask them to convey local concerns around visas so better information can be provided to applicants.

In the meantime, we have also been in discussions with staff at the offices of the MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, and the MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Lucy Frazer, regarding the visa process. Please remember that local parliamentary constituencies are slightly different to the boundaries for councils. Your local MP will either be Anthony Browne if you are in the South Cambridgeshire constituency or Lucy Frazer if you are in the South East Cambridgeshire constituency.

Any South Cambridgeshire residents who would like Anthony Browne’s office to raise visa concerns with the Home Office should email jamie.newgreen@parliament.uk

Any South East Cambridgeshire residents who would like Lucy Frazer’s office to raise visa concerns with the Home Office should email lucy.frazer.mp@parliament.uk

However, please note that due to the number of visa enquiries the Home Office is receiving, the response will not be immediate.

Finally, please note that the Ukraine Extension Scheme which opens on Tuesday (3 May) will allow Ukrainians already in the UK on temporary visas to extend their leave here.

COVID vaccines for guests: Guidance from NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group

Everyone in the UK, including people who have recently arrived in the country from Ukraine, is entitled to the free COVID-19 vaccinations they are eligible for from the NHS. Individuals who haven’t yet had any dose of the vaccine can simply walk in to get their first, second and booster dose(s) as appropriate at any of the walk-in clinics in our area. You can find these walk-in clinics via www.thevaccinators.co.uk – Patients who walk in for their vaccination do not need to bring ID and do not require an NHS number.

People who have had one or more doses abroad are usually expected to bring proof of these vaccinations to the vaccination clinic in order to evidence which doses they are now due to receive. However, we understand that many Ukrainian individuals may not have been able to bring proof of their previous vaccinations with them. If a person who has recently arrived from Ukraine cannot produce proof of their previous vaccinations, the vaccinating team will be able to restart their vaccination course. This means that they’ll receive a first, second and booster dose(s) as appropriate in the UK.

If a Ukrainian individual does have proof of their previous vaccinations, we would ask them to bring this to the vaccination site so they can continue their vaccination course.

Our processes: A timeline

We thought it would be helpful to set out the processes that we have in place and are following – at a very high level – as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The below table should help answer any questions about the stages at which these different steps take place. As the scheme got up and running some guests had arrived before some of these steps could be completed. But the table below shows our normal process now. But please do contact us if you have any questions.


The process
Home office informs us of your sponsor match – this is the first time we have any details for a sponsor or their proposed guests
 
We send an email to sponsors outlining important information
 
This email asks sponsors to instigate DBS checks online
 
Home inspections are arranged by us – contact is made by us to sponsor
 
Guests Arrive
 
Sponsors complete our data capture form to let us know who has arrived
 
Guest £200 payment is processed
 
Sponsor £350 per month payment is set up on our systems to pay in arrears
 
Welfare checks on your Ukrainian guests are arranged

Welcome flyer for guests

For your information, we are providing the attached welcome flyer to all new guests who have arrived under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The text is in the following order: English, Ukrainian (both on page 1), Polish and Russian (both on page 2).

Welcome pack for guests

A reminder that, if you are trying to find information to provide to guests as a ‘welcome pack’, please view our digital welcome pack on our guest webpages here. This set of online pages provides all the latest information for your guests, and will be regularly updated with any new information for guests too.

Laptops for guests

Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign has partnered with Laptops 4 Learning – a company that refurbishes tech devices obtained from companies and educational establishments and recycles them, cleansed and ready for use by people in need.

A guest or host (on behalf of the guest) under the Homes for Ukraine scheme can fill in a form once a guest arrives to request support and a device. The turnaround is around 2 weeks.

The scheme is still looking for more devices. You can contact Admin_TeamUkraine@cambridgerefugees.org if you or a company can support.

Private Facebook groups

As mentioned last week, we have recently set up two private Facebook groups as part of our support for the Homes for Ukraine programme. The first is intended purely for those individuals or families who are hosting guests from Ukraine. We are really pleased to see this group is being well used already, with some helpful discussion, ideas and points raised. The second group is intended purely for guests from Ukraine. These new Facebook groups are intended to be complementary to existing community Facebook pages, email newsletters and so on, and be more individually tailored for hosts or guests. We think they are of value given that the District Council is the only organisation with an over-arching view of all hosts / guests and can bring them together on a district-wide level. Existing and new hosts have been sent the links to these Facebook groups to join as a host or pass to their guests. If you are a host and have not received the links, or have misplaced them, please just email duty.communities@scambs.gov.uk and we can provide them again.

FSB updated advice

In the latest advice from the FSB, find out how your small business can keep a close eye on operations and get advice as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to disrupt the global economy.

Thank you for your continued support.