Following significant pressure on the government to provide a response to the flow of refugees out of Ukraine and across Europe, a new scheme called ‘Homes for Ukraine’ has been announced paving the way for wide ranging hospitality for those fleeing the war.

The new scheme enables anyone to offer a room or a house to people fleeing the war, with some scrutiny expected to ensure both those offering their homes and those seeking accommodation do not abuse the scheme. Hosts are expected to nominate a named person or family that they are offering their accommodation to, however, organisations and government are likely to play a role in managing the process.

People travelling from Ukraine to the UK on this visa scheme will have leave to remain in the UK for three years, with permission to work, access public services and claim benefits aside from housing support. Hosts will receive a payment of £350 a month regardless of the number of people housed, and need to commit to providing six months’ accommodation rent-free, however, they are able to ask for reasonable costs for bills and food if they wish.

The Sanctuary Foundation, established by former Evangelical Alliance director Krish Kandiah as a rapid response to the need for a better system than what was being offered by the government, had seen nearly 17,000 pledges of support when the scheme was formally announced in parliament by Michael Gove MP. You can pledge your support at sanc​tu​ary​foun​da​tion​.org​.uk/


Prior to the launch of this scheme, refugees wanting to enter the UK have had to demonstrate a family link; this limited approach was widely criticised for failing to match the rhetoric of the government in offering a generous and compassionate response, nor commensurate to the need as millions of people flee Ukraine. The vast majority of refugees who have left Ukraine are currently in Poland and other neighbouring countries, however, the pressure on those countries is immense and other countries have recognised the need to provide straightforward and swift ways to enable people to come to safety.

Previous community sponsorship schemes have been criticised as slow and bureaucratic, the main predecessor which was developed in the wake of the refugee crisis from the war in Syria has seen only 700 people receiving support since 2015.

Amid the wide-ranging recognition that more must be done, and the incredible willingness of the public to respond – a poll for the Observer suggested nearly three in ten people in the UK would consider taking Ukrainian refugees into their home – there are also questions regarding potential risks in developing new schemes at pace. Evangelical Alliance member organisation CARE cautioned that the threat of abuse by traffickers should be taken seriously.

Lauren Agnew, human trafficking policy expert at the charity, said: Setting refugees up in homes around the UK is not the end of the story. There must be follow-up checks to ensure these individuals are not being exploited. We must remember that refugees are extremely vulnerable.

Agnew added: We urge the government to put rigorous safeguarding measures in place to ensure one, that homes and other locations offered to refugees are indeed safe, and two that the welfare of refugees is ensured for as long as they need to take refuge in the UK.”