These are not my words they are taken directly from an email I and all other County Councillors received about what is happening in regards to Ukrainian Refugees at County Council level. Feel free to get in touch any time to query anything or for help.
Stephen Moir’s email:
In the past week county, district and city council staff have been working around the clock to ensure that we can welcome refugees as quickly as possible and provide the support that they need.
District and city councils have started to contact those residents who have agreed to provide a home (known as sponsors) to carry out DBS and housing checks.
We have had some hosts and potential hosts contacting us wanting to know when they will be contacted about these checks. However, we can only make contact once we have received data from the Home Office. To be able to pass data onto us, the Home Office must have approved all the Visa applications that apply to the offer of accommodation, which includes the Home Office carrying out security checks, so this can take time.
We have written to all confirmed sponsors this week and asked them to bear with us, assuring that their district or city council will be in touch as soon as possible. If you receive similar questions and comments, please offer this response.
This information, along with the answers to many other questions, is available to view on our website here. The contact centres of all the councils have also been provided with a more detailed set of FAQs so that they can assist people coming to us for guidance and support. We are also in the process of uploading an information pack to our website for guests with children who need to apply for a school place.
In further news, the Ukraine Refugee Response Group for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has continued to meet. This group continues to coordinate our response at pace and a number of working groups have been established so that the district/city councils can work together on for issues such as data transfer and producing the welcome packs for guests.
In addition, a communications group has been established and met for the first time this week. This includes representatives from each of the councils but is expanding its membership to include other member of the Warn and Inform comms cell who may have an interest, such as health and the police.
The communications group has drawn up a communications plan which details how the councils can work together to share resources and information and ensure consistency in messaging.
As a reminder, people or organisations wanting to be sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine scheme can still register their interest.
Those who already know a Ukrainian national (or immediate family member) who they want to sponsor, can help them to apply for a visa under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
People who do not already know a Ukrainian national (or immediate family member) will have to link with a voluntary sector/charitable organisation who are working to match the offer of homes in the UK with people in Ukraine who need accommodation.
There are a number of organisations on a local and national level who are involved in matching. The organisation that the Home Office is recommending is Reset Communities and Refugees. People can apply here.
As of yesterday (Thursday 31 March) the relevant Home Office database indicates that to date 192 ‘groups’ of ‘guests’ (both government terms), comprising 292 individuals have arrived in Cambridgeshire. The system also indicates that a further 267 groups comprising 402 individuals have estimated arrival dates soon.
In further news, the Government has now confirmed that it is not providing funding for people arriving under the Ukraine Family Scheme. This scheme also doesn’t offer thank you payments like the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Additionally, there will be no provision of data from central government on the Family Scheme, only under the Homes For Ukraine scheme.
-Words taken from an email to all Councillors from Stephen Moir, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire County Council