In response to details revealed regarding the UK Government’s new ‘Homes for Ukraine Scheme’, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council said:
“As an organisation with seven decades of experience working directly with refugees to help them rebuild their lives after the trauma of war, we are concerned that people from Ukraine are still not being recognised as refugees and being asked to apply for visas when they just need to be guaranteed protection. This programme falls short of enabling any Ukrainian, particularly the most vulnerable such as children who are alone, to seek safety in the UK and access the full support they urgently need.
“By establishing a visa route and naming scheme, it will inevitably be restricted to those who are known to people in the UK and be a quite complex lengthy visa application process. A humanitarian crisis requires a speedy and compassionate response not one that puts bureaucratic hurdles ahead of the immediate needs of people whose lives have been ripped apart.
“We are also worried about ensuring the safety and wellbeing for Ukrainians who have fled bloodshed, and the level of support available for their sponsors. We are talking about very traumatised women and children whose experiences are unique, and the level of support needs to match that. It’s like asking people to be foster carers without any robust checks, training or having a social worker in place to support them.
“Those coming here who have already had their lives turned upside down, will also not have full rights to benefits, so there is a real risk they could end up homeless if they have to leave the sponsors or extended family home which would be completely devastating. It’s vital they can quickly access GPs, mental health services and schools to ensure they have the support they will so desperately need to rebuild their lives in the UK.”