We have all been moved by the images we’ve seen on our TVs of people fleeing their homes in Ukraine. It is only natural to want to help, to feel strongly about needing to be involved, especially if you have a free space in your home. However, refugees, regardless of where they are from, require stability and support. It is then important to consider whether you will be able to offer a minimum of six months of accommodation to your guests before you decide to host someone through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Let’s start with the most important, what is it that you are committing to as a host
It is much better that you decide hosting is not for you now, rather than two weeks before your guests arrive. In this resource we will share some of the things to consider when planning to become a host as part of the Homes for Ukraine programme.
The accommodation you offer must be available for a minimum of six months. During that time, you will not charge rent regardless of whether you offer a self-contained property or a room in your own home. You will, however, receive a £350 per month thank you payment from the government for as long as your guests stay with you and for up to 12 months. You can read more about financial matters regarding this scheme здесь.
Your guests will have a key to your front door, so that they can come and go as they please. They will, of course, stay in your property when you go on holiday. You will also be giving them access to shared living spaces in your home – the kitchen, bathroom, living room (note: this of course doesn’t apply if you offer your guests separate, self-contained accommodation).
Your local authority should be offering wrap around support to your guests, but you will be topping that up by introducing your guests to your local area, showing them how to use public transport, and introducing them to some of the activities they may be interested in. You can look at our support on accessing services for more information.
Your local authority will conduct safety check of your property; they will also ask you to apply for DBS checks (your local authority will cover the cost of those) and do a welfare check on your guests after they arrive.
Having someone live with you for six months or more is a big decision to make and will affect how you and others in your household behave in your own home. Make sure that before you go ahead, you consult everyone who lives with you, including children. Think together as to how your life may change because of someone else living with you, and some of the things that you will have to adjust and adapt to accommodate your guests. It can be very simple things like making some space in your fridge for your guests, but also more complex things like how would it feel to live with someone who has a completely different parenting style to yours?
It is only natural to have expectations about what your hosting is going to look like. What comes to your mind when you think about hosting? Is it a picture of happily sharing meals with your guests? Or perhaps a hope to offer a room to someone who can sort things out themselves? Whatever your expectations are, it is fair to assume that they will be challenged by the actual experience of hosting.
Remember that being a refugee is hard – leaving your country, your home, your family is more difficult than we can imagine. And that will affect the people you host. They may, for example, find it difficult to express gratitude, be negatively affected by news from home or have a difficult time once they arrive in the UK. They may themselves come to the UK with unrealistic expectations of how their life is going to look like. It is amazing that you have even considered becoming a host and opening your home to someone you’ve never met, but it’s also important to remember that hosting can be difficult, and it probably will be difficult at times.
It is absolutely fine if you decide that, after all, hosting isn’t right for you. There are other ways in which you can get involved and help people. Here are couple of our suggestions: