Jenny tells her story of hosting and how it led to starting a charity in Camden that helps welcome Ukrainians. She also shares the challenges she faced and valuable advice for future hosts.
Jenny said housing is definitely the biggest challenge. People will eventually find places, but you must have tenacity, be flexible and look a lot, especially for those that live in nice parts of London. She explained that the housing challenges arise because the market is extremely competitive and it can be difficult locating affordable housing if you are on benefits and don’t have a guarantor or several months rent to pay up front.
It takes tremendous tenacity and hard work for most guests to find independent housing but most do. Start early. Be flexible. Look at many, many places!
Jenny has also seen challenges with trauma and tremendous anxiety among guests. She feels there is a shortage of health support.
Familes4Peace set themselves up to help welcome Ukrainians. It all started with a WhatsApp group of people who wanted to host. It was very grassroots. Their aim was to give Ukrainians a chance to know each other, feel welcome, and to help them network with each other.
Today, they do signposting and have quite a few WhatsApp groups that they moderate. Jenny keeps in touch with her network of hosts and if they have a specific question, they know they can reach out.
They also have a newsletter they share with hosts. They are currently working on creating a commemorative quilt and inviting hosts and guests to come and make a square for the quilt as a nice way to record their experience and have something tangible to remember it with.
Their community hub hosts talks and speakers. The council will come and talk about topics such as housing and employment opportunities, someone from the NHS may come to talk about healthcare, an organization may come to talk about starting your own business. They have found these talks extremely valuable!
Jenny mentioned that even Community Sponsorship group members have joined their WhatsApp groups to help create this support network and build this local group of people. Jenny’s support network is evidence that it is possible to start your own local support!