This week the Homes for Ukraine scheme launched with over 100,000 people signing up to house Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict. The scheme makes it possible for UK residents to open their homes for a minimum of six months, with a government grant of £350 per month towards expenses. Refugees within the scheme will be able to access healthcare, benefits, employment, support, education, English language tuition, and may live and work in the UK for three years.
On the box, the scheme sounds brilliant – the public of the UK can do something tangible to aid the humanitarian crisis because of the war and help vulnerable individuals in their time of need. However, it is important to consider the practicalities of the scheme, such as the governments’ safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the necessary and ongoing support they will need.
With the public’s immediately supportive response to the scheme, practical factors will take time. Checks must be done of each home and family who have signed up. It is currently unclear who will be doing the checks, and how they will be managed and controlled. The government website offers no further information on what specific checks will be done prior to the public letting Ukrainians into their homes. Understandably, people are wondering how we can ensure their safety for the duration of their stay.
The scheme gives Ukrainian’s access to a myriad of services and institutional support that UK residents make use of every day. It is therefore entirely possible that we don’t have the infrastructure to support the yet undetermined number of refugees entering the country. These are individuals whose homes have been war torn, and many will have seen horrors, lost their homes, and been separated from their families – experiences that many in the UK could barely imagine. This will undoubtedly have an enormous impact on the mental and physical health of Ukrainians. Since the pandemic, our hospitals are suffering from severe backlog with waiting lists that go on for months. It is worth considering whether refugees will be able to access such services. One the other hand, those who will be housing Ukrainians are expected to support – or have access to the necessary training to support – the complex needs of a refugee.
By creating this scheme, the government has control over the number of Ukrainians are coming into the country, but many have criticised the process for being too complex and unclear. Time will only tell how effective it will be, and we can only hope for the Ukrainians sake that is a success and that they find safety here.