A major charitable organization that is helping the government with Ukrainian refugees from the UK hosts after initial placements ended or broke down, downplaying its work as it says the scheme is impractical.
Refugees at Home is one of five voluntary and community organisations, listed on the gov.uk website as “accredited providers”, to help match and match Ukrainian refugees with UK hosts.
Hosting arrangements are for at least six months and many expire after the plan opened in March. Fewer UK hosts are now coming forward, increasing rematching requests from Ukrainians.
Many Ukrainian families have been left homeless – about a third of them are in London. According to government statistics from 24 February 2022 to 26 August 2022, 1,565 Ukrainian families were registered as homeless by the councils.
Refugees at Home said: “We are extremely sorry that Refugees at Home are unable to help with any rematching requests under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which were not originally made through Refugees at Home.”
The statement said: “This is due to the conditions and requirements of the Houses for Ukraine plan.
“As well as hosts and guests, we have been approached by several local authorities, who have asked us to support them in making these rematches. Sadly, we are unable to do so due to the complexities surrounding the current plan.”
The Local Government Association has also expressed concerns about the housing situation for Ukrainian refugees. Its president, James Jamieson, said councils, Ukrainians and hosts needed “certainty” about the next steps.
“There are concerns that a lack of sponsorships or other options may result in the need for more Ukrainian families to be treated as homeless,” he said. “As the number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless is gradually increasing along with the cost of living crisis, sponsors may need to increase support in order to sponsor new or existing hosts in the long term. be encouraged as inflation and energy costs rise,” he said. ,
Robina Qureshi, CEO of Positive Action in Housing, which has matched more than 350 Ukrainian individuals with hosts in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, said there were “layers of chaos” in the government hosting plan, along with a lack of strategy. .
“NGOs are doing what we can on the basis of our expertise but we are seeing a ticking timebomb,” she said.
Sarah Nathan, co-founder of Refugees at Home, said charity work would continue for the opening matches between the Ukrainian and UK hosts, but would only work on reneging on requests from Ukrainian refugees, for whom they did the initial hosting placement. created. All other rematch requests are now being rejected.
In September the charity turned down 60 rematching requests. “We are concerned that there is no move on the strategy. We’ve found it very difficult to help rematch. It is very bureaucratic and there is no mechanism for one local authority to talk to another about it. There is a need to formulate a policy to overcome this. We cannot expect local authorities to do this,” Nathan said.
A government spokesman said: “We continue to work closely with refugees and local councils to ensure families have somewhere to live.
“We are grateful to the hosts for their generosity and goodwill over the past six months – and most sponsors look forward to continuing to host.
“For visiting guests, we launched Rematching in May which has been successful in finding ongoing accommodations to families and we are working with councils to expand this service.”