From displaced to safe – celebrating resettlement in Gloucestershire

This week marks one year since the Gloucestershire county council began welcoming Ukrainian guests to the county as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Since April 1, 2022, over 1,400 Ukrainian guests, including more than 280 school-aged children, have been welcomed by the county.

Of the total number of guests, 380 households are currently hosting Ukrainian guests, opening their family homes to welcome those displaced by war. Some have chosen to move on or go back to Ukraine, while others have stayed and settled in the county.

One of the success stories of the Homes for Ukraine scheme is Olena’s story. Olena is a mother to two daughters, a teenager, and a six-year-old. Olena is in recovery from cancer and needs continuous treatment. Initially, they lived with a host in a rural area, where unfortunately the only work available was physically demanding, like cleaning. The family asked to be rematched, and with support from Gloucestershire’s Homes for Ukraine team, they now live with a family in a more urban area.

The youngest daughter secured a place at a local school, and Olena is being offered job roles which are less physical, helping her to look after her health. The new hosts have a family dog who has become a surprisingly therapeutic influence on Olena and her two girls. As well as a location that better meets their needs, Olena and her girls are living with a bigger family, which is giving them even more opportunity to improve their English and learn how to cook new dishes.

Aside from the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Gloucestershire is also committed to resettling 35 Afghan families under the government’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). Currently, 27 families have been resettled in the county, providing a safe place for adults to get their lives back on track while their children can flourish in welcoming and supportive local schools.

Furthermore, the Gloucestershire Refugee Resettlement Programme (GRRP) has supported 89 families, which equates to 364 people from Syria, to resettle in the county.

All these schemes are overseen by the recently established Strategic Migration Partnership, made up of representatives from many of the public sector organizations in Gloucestershire. The partnership works with local charities and aid workers to establish local support for asylum seekers as they navigate their way to a safer environment to live in. They make sure asylum seekers get access to medical treatment, emotional support, and practical help, such as housing and clothes.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said, “It is only right that we help those far less fortunate than ourselves. These families have had their lives turned upside down and have likely lost most, if not all, of what they once owned. With all our partners, we will continue to support people who have been displaced.”

Gloucestershire Homes for Ukraine team is always looking for people who can offer a Ukrainian guest a safe place to stay under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The team is looking for people who might have a second home, rental property, annex, or spare rooms anywhere in Gloucestershire. If you would be interested in supporting someone fleeing war for at least six months, please get in touch with the Homes for Ukraine team via hfuteam@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

For the first six months of sponsorship, the host is able to claim a £350 monthly ‘thank you’ payment. This rises to £450 after six months and up to £500 after one year. An optional tax-free ‘thank you’ payment per sponsoring household, per month is also available to hosts who can accommodate one or more guests for up to two years.

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