Arrange a welcome pack for your guests, things such as pyjamas, underwear, dressing gown and slippers. wash bag with toiletries. Even better, ask them what they need when they get here as part of a daily WhatsApp contact. It will make them feel better to know that these things are being actively considered, and you will learn a lot about your guests.
Each local authority seems to approach this differently. We understand that a key worker will be assigned to your guests when they arrive.
Extending the visa
On entry to the UK, guests are granted a 6 month visa which can be extended to 3 years by applying for a biometric residence permit
Guests should receive £200 to tide them over until the Universal Credit payment begins. At present this has not arrived
Guests will be entitled to Universal Credit. The process can be started online at Job Centre. Families may also be entitled to other benefits such as Child Benefit, and more details are awaited on what this may and how will operate. Hosts will be entitled to £350 a month for hosting (this value is irrespective of how many are staying). Details are awaited on how this will work in effect. Apply for benefits will start process to generate a National Insurance Number. Please note that application process may require a visit to a Job Centre and require an appointment.
Benefits will be paid in arrears and Universal Credit has a 5 week wait for payment.
Many refugees may not feel comfortable asking for benefits. It is recommended that they apply for these as this will unlock other services that may be of benefit to them.
Guests will not affect Council Tax.
It may be beneficial to discuss families financial situation and whether they require to seek employment quickly. Each families situation will be different. Some families may have savings, some may have lost everything.
Setting up a Bank Account
Good advice for helping to set up a bank account (this covers not only Barclays but Lloyds and Natwest) “The latest guidance for Ukrainian nationals who arrive here as refugees, and who will not instantly have a letter with proof of their UK residential address to open bank account in the UK. This is what they said: The person can apply straight away to open a bank account, they must use their own phone and download the Barclays app to begin the process. The App will use GPS technology to determine their exact location, so they must do this in their new UK home. They will need to use their passport number to prove their identity. Once they’ve registered on the app, Barclays will post them a unique code to their new UK home. This will take a few days. They log in using this code and that should allow them to open their bank account. We are not sure if Barclays will require a document at a later stage showing their new home address but I’m sure they will inform you at the time. At least Ukrainian nationals will have a bank account set up within a few days, for their Universal Credits to be paid into.”
Revolut are offering an online banking card that allows free conversion and transfer of money into Ukrainian Banks, as families may still have relatives in Ukraine who require money.
Wise also offer a bank account that makes a small charge (20p +0.35%) for transfers to Ukranian Banks, but may have a better exchange rate than Revolut . If 3 people use this invite link our Ukranian guest will get £50 from the bank, and everyone gets a discount off their first transaction. When our guest is paid I will change the link so someone else can benefit.
Monzo Bank are another online bank popular with guests from eastern Europe
Once they have a address and bank account they should be able to claim universal credit by the online system which takes quite a while to sort but they back dated to the day you ring up or go online. Local councils are giving new arrivals £200 which I guess is to tide them over until they receive benefits. As yet we are yet to receive these.
Contact your local Doctors surgery to start the process for getting families registered. It has been confirmed that families will be able to access the NHS within UK.This can be copleted online or in the surgery. Families may have mental Health needs such as Counselling/ Psychological help. Registering for Dentists and Opticians may also be something that requires to be set up in due course. Currently no NHS referal services are offered.
Families may not have Covid vaccinations/ other vaccinations that are done within UK, it may be something that can be arranged via NHS once this access has been arranged.
GPs maybe able to offer a review by a Health Visitor for children under 5.
Check if families have any medical conditions / allergies etc that require consideration/ changes to home etc.
All applications are being co ordinated through Hamsphire County Council. Once an application has been placed they will check that the local school has the capacity and offer you the plce. Some Ukrainian schools are still offering lessons online.
Nursery places may need to be arranged for preschool age children.
Free school meals and transport maybe available.
Baby and Toddler groups may be worth investigating.
Free online English classes for Ukrainian children and Adults. Please email email@example.com for the latest updates.
National Insurance Numbers
This will be required for wages and is also issued as part of the benefits process. This may be organised through the local authority or this link https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
UK SIM cards will berequired. We are currently offering Vodaphone 6 months free with 20gb per month and free uk and ukrainian calls.
Kids will require regular routines and activities such as taking to parks,playing, arts crafts, walks etc to allow calm ways of acclimatising and restoring their world to being a safe place. Local clubs, swimming pools, gyms. Arrange for a tour of local area, such as a visit to local supermarket. Maps of local area may be handy to let family see. Reach out to local clubs and associations as this will all help with integration, making friends and make situation less stressful.
Families may need a lot of personal space and peace and quiet initally, remember they have just left a warzone and have a lot of trauma, be led by the family on what they want.
We have close links with local charities to provide toys and essential equipment required for small children. Please contact us if you need support.
Families may experience cultural shock as may never have been overseas before and there may be may differences between UK and Ukraine.
There is a whatsapp group chat for any guests that want to link up and do some social things.
We would suggest you download Google translate.Alexa may be useful if you have this at home
Duolingo is a free online teaching resource. They have produced a simple phrasebook
Here is a few ideas on how they can ensure their guests feel welcome. These are just little things, of course your guests will have more pressing needs, they will need your help in many crucial areas, but if you’d like a few tips on little things you can get or do see below:
Eastern Europeans have a close relationship with tea (as do Brits!) but we take it a bit differently. A common choice is black tea with lemon and sugar or honey. Another one is black tea with confiture/jam. Tea with milk is not very popular.
We love bread! Not necessarily toast bread but loaf bread – sourdough, wholemeal etc. And when there’s bread being consumed so is butter, preferably the ‘normal’ one, not the easy spread one.
Sour cream is a necessity in the kitchen! We add it to soup.
Mealtimes tend to be a bit different – we start with breakfast, sometimes followed by a second breakfast (more of a snack) and then the biggest meal of the day comes at lunchtime. This is often a two or three course meal: soup followed by a main and maybe dessert. Supper, eaten in the evening, is again a smaller meal (more akin to a sandwich at lunchtime). It might be a good idea to keep that in mind at the start.
Eastern European houses tend to be very, very warm in winter. Many people live in blocks of flats and those are often heated by the council, so heating is blasting. It is a surprise to most Eastern Europeans when they visit their British friends how cold the houses are. Maybe consider providing your guests with an extra blanket or water bottle while they adapt to their new home.
Slippers are very important and worn in most houses. It is very likely that your guests will either bring slippers with them or wish to quickly purchase a pair.
Some people insist on changing into ‘loungewear’ as soon as they come into the house. Many were told by the older generation that wearing ‘out of the house’ clothes inside brings in dust and dirt from the street and will insist on wearing two different outfits throughout the day, depending on whether they are in or out.
Children in Eastern Europe are definitely dressed warmer than in the UK (it’s colder there plus there is a deep ingrained belief that a child will catch a cold if underdressed). Don’t be surprised if your guests insist that a small child must wear a hat well into spring if not a year round (to protect them from the cold or the sun).
Children are given homework every day so it will be a pleasant surprise for your guests to find out that that’s no longer the case. They also go to school for different number of hours per day (depending on their age they tend to be in school for anywhere between 4-9h a day). It might take them some getting used to to the regularity of English schools.
It is much more common in Eastern Europe to visit a doctor with mild symptoms. It is also much more common to be prescribed antibiotics and to take a range of different medicines and over-the-counter medicines. While there are home-remedies that are passed down the generations (vodka in tea anyone? Or milk with honey) it will come as a shock to your guests that they will be told to take paracetamol and to rest rather than be prescribed something specific.
Eastern Europeans tend to be more blunt than British people. In a direct translation saying ‘Can you pass the salt?’ is very polite and typically a ‘please’ wouldn’t be necessary. Much of manners is expressed through phrasing something as a question rather than by using specific phrases. It is a small thing but worth to keep in mind that your guests will not be accustomed to saying please and thank you with every request. They might also not understand subtle hints such as ‘would you mind doing x’ – for them that will be a question, demanding a yes or no response. It might be worth using simpler phrases such as ‘please do x’ while you are finding a common tongue with your guest.