Many Friends have been asking about the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This page details all the information we have now and offers some other ways we can support those fleeing violent conflict.

Please also see our page Responding to the war in Ukraine.

Over the last few weeks Ukrainians seeking sanctuary in the UK have faced many bureaucratic difficulties. Politicians and others are demanding that the government drop 'mean-spirited' and lengthy visa applications.

In March 2022 a new sponsorship scheme was announced. Members of the public can offer to host Ukrainian refugees in their homes. The scheme is called Homes for Ukraine scheme (offsite link).


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    Sanctuary network event: Housing

    A Sanctuary Meetings Network event focused on housing people who have experienced forced migration, refugees and asylum seekers.

    Homes for Ukraine scheme

    The 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme aims to provide a much-needed route to safety for Ukrainian refugees. Tens of thousands registered interest to support the scheme within hours of its launch. Right now, this is the only route into the UK for Ukrainians without relatives already here.

    There are still a lot of questions over how the scheme will work in practice – for example about how potential hosts will be 'matched' with refugees and how organisations can act as sponsors. Some refugee support organisations have concerns such as whether there will be enough support for the refugees and their hosts. The scheme also ignores the plight of migrants from other countries and conflicts. But it is the only option available now.

    UPDATE: 5 April 2022

    • Individuals and organisations interested in hosting but who don't have existing connections with Ukrainians can now register their interest on the government website.
    • The government has recently partnered with RESET Communities and Refugees to provide a 'matching and training service' for sponsors and refugees. The service is at a very early phase; initial information, is available on the RESET website.
    • The Church of England and Church of Scotland have also produced useful lists of questions to consider before making a commitment to sponsorship.
    • Since the Homes for Ukraine scheme was set up, some refugee charities have expressed concern that a number of Facebook groups and other 'matching' sites have sprung up without sufficient safeguarding and oversight arrangements. It's important to look carefully at any organisation offering matching services to satisfy yourself that these are in place. BYM strongly recommends using the government/RESET scheme or another established refugee support organisation.

    What's the Quaker view?

    There are a range of Quakers opinions about whether or not to join in with the scheme. Individual Friends and Quaker communities may be led to act in different ways. The Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network is compiling different Friends' views on its website.

    It is vital that anyone fleeing conflict should be offered protection, regardless of nationality. Quakers have long called for a transformation of the UK immigration system. It should not be based on a culture of disbelief, but founded on compassion and practical response.

    Across Britain there are around 100 Quaker Sanctuary Meetings. These meetings work to build a culture of welcome. They offer support and solidarity to migrant and refugee communities in their local area.

    Quakers in Britain staff are planning networking meetings for Quaker communities and individuals working with people who have experienced forced migration, asylum seekers and refugees. If you would be interested in attending these contact sanctuary@quaker.org.uk so we can let you have the details once they are confirmed.

    An unjust migration system

    The Ukraine crisis highlights (yet again) the need for a just migration system. Yet the UK government is pushing forward with the Nationality and Borders Bill.

    Among other things, the bill would:

    • criminalise and punish vulnerable people who have little choice but to arrive in the UK though 'irregular routes'
    • give the government power to send asylum seekers to offshore detention facilities
    • make it more difficult for people to claim refugee status

    These proposals would make it harder for people fleeing conflict and persecution to find sanctuary in Britain. Many of them also undermine the UK's international legal obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention (offsite link).

    We must do all we can to support Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary in Britain. But we must also remember the bigger picture. We must also continue to call for a just migration system for all.

    What can we do?

    Give money

    So far, most refugees are staying in neighbouring countries, some of whose support systems are under severe strain. Cash donations to humanitarian organisations such as the Disasters Emergency Committee (offsite link), is one of the most effective ways of getting help to where it is most needed.

    Contact your local migrant support group

    Refugee and migrant support organisations and local authorities are preparing for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, alongside their ongoing work to support other vulnerable migrants. Get in touch with your local group to find out about the specific needs in your area.

    Contact your MP

    Ask for accessible resettlement systems for people from Ukraine and all others fleeing war. Ask them oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill. Refugee Action's website has a simple e-tool and template you can use.

    Find a Sanctuary Meeting near you

    Use our online map and directory.

    Let us know what you're doing

    We are keen to hear from Sanctuary Meetings or other Quaker meetings working to support Ukrainian refugees or on wider issues of migration justice. Please contact sanctuary@quaker.org.uk.

    Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash