Call for volunteers to host displaced people from Ukraine
People across Scotland are being asked to consider if they could open their homes and unoccupied properties to displaced people from Ukraine as part of two new campaigns to find new hosts.
The first campaign, the Homes for Ukraine Super Sponsor Scheme, aims to increase the supply of volunteer hosts across the country for people who are currently in short-term welcome accommodation. A new webpage has been set up to provide prospective volunteers with clear information on the application process and what is expected should they be matched with a displaced person from Ukraine already in Scotland.
Hosts will register their details online which will then be sent to their local authority, where checks are undertaken to ensure that homes offered are suitable to host displaced people from Ukraine.
Minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine Neil Gray said: “I’m so proud of the warm welcome the people of Scotland have given to those fleeing the war in Ukraine. We have welcomed so many people through our Super Sponsor Scheme who would otherwise not have been able to travel. We don’t want people to spend any more time than necessary in temporary accommodation and we are keen to match people with hosts as soon as we can.
“We need more hosts and that’s why we’ve launched this campaign. We know that being a host is a big commitment so we have set out exactly what will be expected so people can make an informed choice before providing their details. The most successful arrangements happen when both the needs of hosts and Ukrainians align. Many people may prefer to live in areas close to amenities and services, or close to pre-existing Ukrainian communities. In addition, volunteer hosts will have their own preferences and may not have space for larger family sizes or complex group compositions.
“Matching takes time and considerable input. This is why we have increased resources to our local authorities to boost the process.
“I’m extremely grateful to people who are already hosting, as well as those who have already put their details forward and are still waiting to be matched. Rest assured your generous offer is under consideration and your local authority will be in touch. Anyone who has already provided us with their details, will not need to do so again.”
Simon Tyas MBE from Scot Hosts said: “We are pleased to support this campaign, which is very much needed. Over the past nine months, Scot Hosts been working with hosts (through the Facebook group Scotland Ukraine Host Support Group) and Ukrainian families across Scotland to try and ensure that they have a positive and effective time during their time together in Scotland. We’ve created a support network where hosts can share positive and negative experiences, and we stand ready to welcome new hosts who are willing and able to offer their homes.”
Meanwhile, the Room for Refugees Network is also appealing to members of the public across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland who own unoccupied properties to make them available to house those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The Network currently assists refugees from across the world, including Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Yemen. It has arranged shelter through its volunteer hosts for over 4,000 refugees. Its Ukraine Programme has sheltered 405 Ukrainian war refugees, with a backlog of 2,000.
Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, which pioneered Room for Refugees - the longest-running refugee hosting programme in the UK - said: “Refugee numbers are set to grow because of war, conflict and climate change. We are concerned about potential homelessness arising for Ukrainian refugees, because of poorly set up hosting arrangements, and increased reliance on hotels, barracks and ships, where people can end up staying for months or in some cases, years.
“The UK badly needs to change its approach to housing refugees from a costly, emergency response to one that’s able to address this into the future. Dog whistle strategies like Manston and the Rwanda policy don’t work. They are costly, cause misery, self harm and incite violence. Ultimately, we as a society are paying the price in lost taxes, legal challenges and long-term mental and physical health problems.
“The government must provide safe routes and long-term strategies instead of finding new ways of hurting people fleeing war, torture and human trafficking. And where we don’t deal with it, a tiny sliver of a fraction of the world’s refugees will risk their lives in desperation to get here.”
For those with unoccupied properties and spare rooms, please register with us at www.roomforrefugees.com.