Since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, York has taken in more than 300 Ukrainian refugees – the vast majority of them women and children who were forced to flee their country by leaving their husbands behind.
They stayed with more than 180 different hosts and sponsors in the city.
“However, as the war in Ukraine continues and the country’s infrastructure comes under constant attack, we are receiving new inquiries every day from families who want to flee the violence and seek asylum in the UK,” said Rebecca Russell of York City sanctuary.
Some of the Ukrainian families already in York also need to find new sponsors because, for whatever reason, their host families can no longer support them, Rebecca said.
So, with the approach of the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the charity decided to create a new register of sponsors.
“We want to find new sponsors and reconnect with those who haven’t been matched yet,” Rebecca said.
The UK government has confirmed that the Homes for Ukraine programme, which provides host families with a monthly payment when they take in Ukrainian refugees, will run for another year from March 2023.
The tax-free monthly payment for sponsors has been increased from £350 to £450 by City of York Council.
And for sponsors who host Ukrainians who are here for 12 months or more, the payment will increase to £500. This is regardless of whether you were the original sponsor or not.
But Rebecca admitted that being a sponsor, while highly rewarding, isn’t always easy.
Many of the Ukrainian refugees have been traumatized by the war or are desperate to return to their country to see their men.
There may be cultural and language issues. And because the war has dragged on, some host families simply find it difficult to host guests in their home for so long.
That is why the City of York Sanctuary wants to create a new registry of those willing to accept Ukrainian refugees in their homes.
“There were quite a few problems in the country,” Rebecca said.
“Some people just didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.
“We did a really good job at York but we want to try and make sure we don’t have those problems here.”
To coincide with the launch of the new registry, York City of Sanctuary will be holding an online workshop next Thursday, February 16, to offer information, support and advice to potential hosts.
“The success of the first register shows the support and generosity of the people of York, but we need to continue to add new sponsors as demand continues to grow,” said Rebecca.
“We want to carefully and thoughtfully match the hosts with the Ukrainian guests.
“So, if you are thinking of becoming a sponsor or have already signed our registry but have not yet been matched (with a Ukrainian family), please sign a new registry.”
To find out more about the webinar for potential sponsors, email homesforukraine@york. gov.uk
To register as a potential sponsor, visit york.cityofsanctuary.org/ and fill out the form forms.office.com/e/Wug8Q6x4Y9