Lancashire County Council has worked with district councils, the NHS and various other organizations to support people fleeing war through the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The program, which launched in March, encourages members of the public to offer rooms in their homes to families and individuals in Ukraine.
Lancashire has welcomed the people of Ukraine with open arms, with 4,212 people now registered to be sponsors, but not all will make it. So far, 623 guests have been matched with properties in Lancashire, including almost two dozen in the Lancaster area as of April 6.
The Homes for Ukraine Scheme is led by the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office, with the Lancashire Refugee Integration Team and the Lancashire Resilience Forum working together to coordinate the nationwide response. Lancashire.
Rebecca Joy Novell, Refugee Resettlement and Asylum Seeker Dispersal Contract Manager at the Lancashire Refugee Integration Team, said: “Staff and volunteers are working around the clock to support families and people fleeing Ukraine.
“While the Homes for Ukraine program is led by the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities and the Ministry of Interior, the County Council and its partners have a vital role to play.
“We are taking many steps to support our sponsors, who have shown incredible generosity in opening their homes to help those in desperate need.”
One of the roles of district authorities is to carry out property checks and report to the county council, which also undertakes enhanced DBS checks for each person over the age of 16 in the sponsoring household. This does not affect the visa process for the program.
The Lancashire Refugee Integration Team is also in regular contact with Lancashire Police and Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnerships, to ensure protection continues.
Seconded staff from the County Council’s Family Welfare Department provide initial welfare checks to every family arriving from Ukraine, while social affairs staff provide welfare checks to single adults.
Sponsors and their guests receive a Lancashire-specific Sponsors Handbook and Guest Handbook, while the Onboarding Team hosts a series of online webinars on how to deal with trauma, register for benefits and to access English for speakers of other languages.
The county council also works with district authorities and community groups to develop a range of integration activities.
Dr Lindsey Dickinson, Associate Medical Director of Primary and Community Care in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “The NHS is incredibly proud to be working closely with partners in Lancashire and South Cumbria to provide a safe and welcoming space for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“Everyone has the right to register with a GP and you don’t need proof of address, immigration status, ID or NHS number, so we encourage those who enter the UK to register with a local practice as soon as possible to access a range of health services.
“Covid-19 vaccination is also available, with appointment and walk-in options for those eligible.
“Remember the NHS is here to help, so please come forward for care if you need it.”
For more information on the Homes for Ukraine program, go here.