1 West Sussex response to the conflict in Ukraine
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) are ready to support eligible families and individuals leaving Ukraine in response to the current situation in the country. We are working with local and national government, charities and volunteer groups to provide appropriate support in line with Government policy for resettling refugees, as the situation develops.
Ukraine Families Scheme
The Ukraine Family Scheme allows immediate and extended family members of British nationals, people settled in the UK and certain others resident here, to come to the country. Those accepted under the scheme will be granted a visa that lasts three years, giving them certainty and ensuring their future in the country. Those applying to the Ukraine Family Scheme:
- must be applying to join or accompany a UK-based family member
- must be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme
- must have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine).
You can find more information about the immigration routes available for Ukrainian nationals in the UK, British nationals and their family members and sign up to receive updates on GOV.UK.Apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa (GOV.UK) (external link)
Homes for Ukraine (Local Sponsorship Scheme)
If you would like to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a ‘sponsor’ as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Use this service to register your interest in becoming a sponsor. You can register as an individual or as an organisation.
Read more about the Homes for Ukraine scheme in a series of frequently asked questions.
Who can register their interest?
Individuals or organisations (for example charity, business, community group) wanting to be sponsors, who do not know anyone personally fleeing the Ukraine, can register their interest in being a sponsor immediately.
Anyone in the UK with a spare room or home can register, as long as you can offer accommodation for at least six months.
If you’re not a British citizen, you must have leave to remain in the UK for at least six months.Register your interest (GOV.UK) (external link)
WSCC will contact you directly once the visa process is completed to schedule your property visit, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and to discuss the support provided by the County Council to both yourself as sponsor, and your arriving guests. We are unable to progress any DBS checks or property visits until we have received the visa approval from central government and will contact you as soon as possible after we receive this.
This will enable the matching process to be completed, including vetting and security checks, to help as many people as possible find somewhere safe to live.
Sponsors are encouraged to make suitable accommodation available for as long as possible, but for a minimum of six months, and can be either residential rooms or unoccupied self-contained residential property.
WSCC stands ready to work alongside national government and our local partners in the delivery of this scheme which will see people arriving via the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme to live and work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education and English language tuition.
Access to public services
You should try to help direct your guests to public services. For example, this could involve helping them contact and register with a local GP and NHS dentist. Additional guidance on how to access public services can be found on GOV.UK. Your local council is responsible for support such as:
- registering children with local schools
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes
- giving advice and referring guests to mental health services and specialist services if needed
- arranging local Jobcentre Plus appointments for benefit assessments, including emergency payments while any benefits are being arranged.
Find information about support available to Ukrainian nationals and their family members.
See the latest statements by government below:
Use our online form to contact us:Homes for Ukraine enquiry (external link)
2 Donating to Ukraine
The government has produced information on how people can support those who have been forced to flee their homes because of the conflict in Ukraine.
If individuals wish to donate money, there are a number of charities providing humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
Many organisations across the UK and internationally have launched appeals and people may wish to donate through these instead.Ukraine: what you can do to help (GOV.UK) (external link)
All donations will be welcome and should be directed to recognised and registered volunteer organisations, for example:
- Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal - Disasters Emergency Committee
- Ukraine Crisis Appeal - British Red Cross
- Ukraine Humanitarian Fund - UN Crisis Relief
- Ukraine crisis: donate now - Unicef UK
The Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator have urged the public to ‘give safely’ to registered charities helping and supporting those affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
People looking to donate to causes working in Ukraine and neighbouring countries should make a few simple checks before giving:
- Check the charity’s name and registration number.
- Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information.
- Be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
- Contact or find out more online about the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to understand how they are spending their funds.
- Look out for the Fundraising Badge on charity fundraising materials. This is the logo which shows that a charity has committed to fundraise in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice.
3 Supporting refugees in West Sussex
West Sussex accepts and supports refugees from around the world under Government schemes including:
- The UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS)
- The Afghan Assistance and Relocation Policy (ARAP)
- The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) works with our local authority partners in the district and borough councils, the local NHS, police and other services and voluntary groups to help relocate and settle families and individuals within the county.
4 UK Resettlement Scheme in West Sussex
The refugees arriving under UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) are funded by the Government via the International Development Fund. This helps to cover costs for providing caseworkers and securing housing, social care, health and support to integrate.
Each case will be different, as each family will have different needs, different skills and different backgrounds.
From the outset, refugees are encouraged on a pathway to independence by learning English, finding employment and sustaining activities of daily living.
We have a core offer of family support in place that helps to build family resilience and independence. The WSCC Resettlement Team supports families to access key services such as GPs, schools and applications to Universal Credit.
Following the three-month intensive support, the support will move to volunteers working alongside the Resettlement Team.
All UKRS refugees receive support for five years.
5 Afghan relocation in West Sussex
Recent events in Afghanistan have left many women, children and men in the country feeling vulnerable and fearing for their lives.
Many Afghan nationals have managed to leave the country, with some now seeking to rebuild their lives in the UK.
WSCC is committed to keeping people safe from dangerous situations, which is why we’re working hard, together with our partners, to welcome people arriving in the UK from Afghanistan who are in urgent need of protection.
We’re doing this through the Government’s ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme. We hope everyone across West Sussex will join us in welcoming and supporting those looking to settle here and rebuild their lives safely.
The schemes offer relocation and other assistance to current and former locally employed staff who worked alongside British forces in Afghanistan, and to Afghan citizens who have fled their country.
Together with our district and borough council partners, we have helped to resettle families in West Sussex under both schemes. We will continue to work closely with all our partners to support those families already within the county and are ready to respond to any widening in scope for the existing refugee resettlement programme as the situation evolves.
Our priority is to find self-contained, long-term accommodation for people and families looking to rebuild their lives in West Sussex. If you have, or know of anyone who has affordable properties available for rent for at least 12 months, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information is available on GOV.UK about how you can help. This could be by donating, providing housing or volunteering.
6 Support for families and how you can help
Our priority is to find affordable, self-contained, long-term accommodation for people and families looking to rebuild their lives in West Sussex.
Support from the voluntary and community sector adds invaluable skills and resource to the schemes. It also increases the chances of families resettling quickly, while ensuring the schemes are more sustainable in the long run.
Volunteer groups have supported the scheme in different ways including:
- property preparation, such as painting and decorating
- family support - working with keyworkers to befriend and support families and individuals, orientating them to life in West Sussex
- English language learning sessions
- help to fund and host several activities to enable the families to resettle and integrate into West Sussex life.
Listed below are some of the several volunteer organisations and groups we work with. You can contact them about volunteering, befriending opportunities or donating clothes and toys for refugee families relocating to West Sussex.
- Worthing 4 Refugees - Creating a culture of safety, integration and justice for refugees and displaced people in the Adur and Worthing area.
- Horsham Refugee Support Group - A small charity run entirely by volunteers who work with refugees or asylum seekers in the Horsham district, linking in with WSCC and Horsham District Council.
- Refugees Welcome Crawley - A small, registered charity based in Crawley offering welcome and support to refugees, asylum seekers or other migrants who need some extra help to cope with life in a new country.
- Sanctuary in Chichester - A registered charity supported by volunteers who work with refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the Chichester area.
- Mid Sussex Voluntary Action - An independent charity working across Mid Sussex to bring together and help local voluntary organisations and community groups.
For individuals wishing to donate money, you may want to consider donating to one of the reputable charities currently running appeals, such as the British Red Cross. We will not be accepting any donations through the council.
7 Information for prospective landlords
What we need
- To find as many 1-4 bed properties as possible to meet demand over the next 12-18 months.
- A collective approach to working with private landlords to find feasible solutions for housing supply.
- Affordable, self-contained Home Office-compliant accommodation with easy access to local services and amenities. Houses need to be safe, to have passed all landlord checks in compliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act in good condition.
- Properties that are in neighbourhoods free of crime and community tensions.
- Assured refundable deposit - no agency fees, arrangement of tenancy agreement and other agreements as necessary.
- Rent that falls within the local housing allowance bands.
- Cover for void costs in advance of arrival of tenants.
- Limited provision for redecorating the property to an acceptable standard.
- A guaranteed long-term, secured tenancy, as we are looking for properties that can ideally be let for three to five years. This will allow the refugees time to settle and integrate within the community.
Refugees who arrive under the Government schemes will arrive with refugee status, which allows them to work and have full entitlement to state benefits. They will have access to Universal Credit (UC).
Within the first few weeks, refugees will be registered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Those in receipt of benefits will be expected to claim UC to pay for their housing costs.
The housing cost element of UC can be paid directly to the tenant and they will be responsible for paying the landlord. If there are any concerns over payments, the landlord will be given contact details for the WSCC Refugee Resettlement Team, who will be able to assist and investigate any problems.
Tenants will also be responsible for paying council tax, utility bills and any problems should be reported to the scheme.
Your property will be looked after and we will assist with getting the property ready for the new tenants.
If you are interested in letting your property or would like more information, please email us at email@example.com.