The government’s Homes for Ukraine refugee scheme was officially opened on Friday, but ministers have come under fire for offering little practical help to Brits participating in the scheme.
A website in support of the program went online earlier this week and so far more than 138,000 people across the UK have expressed an interest in providing shelter for people fleeing the conflict.
Announced by Michael Gove, the rising secretary, the scheme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to keep people fleeing war safe – even if they have no ties to the UK.
Anyone who has a room or apartment available for at least six months can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or family, although those who offer to host are screened and Ukrainian applicants are subjected to security checks.
Ukrainians coming to the UK are allowed to live and work in the UK for three years and have access to health care, employment support, education and social benefits.
But people who have signed up to help say they are getting no help from the government.
“It hasn’t been easy to try and help, I don’t think the government has done much to help people,” Jade Connor told Sky News.
“But in the absence of official help, people across the UK have come together amazingly,” she added.
“Especially the Facebook groups I belong to, the moderators there, the admins work almost 24/7 and they’re just volunteers trying to bring people from Ukraine together.”
Meanwhile, charities have accused the government of “starting chaos” through the scheme and warned refugees could die before they can be matched with a sponsor and safely get to the UK.
The program is a “curtain of smoke” and distracts from what really needs to happen, which is lifting visa requirements for Ukrainians like other European countries have done, said Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing.
Ms Qureshi said the government put NGOs in an “evil” position and planted the scheme on them without prior consultation.
She only expects a “trickle” of refugees to arrive through the program because they have to find people to become sponsors abroad before they can apply and then make their own way to the UK.
She said it could take “months and months of processing” to safely match people to suitable homes.
She said: “The lives of the people who have to get here depend on being able to get to this country via the current route and that worries us more than anything.
“Will some of the people be alive when the process is complete?
“They should be letting people in now, but the government is doing to the refugees what they did to the Syrians and the Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, and what they are doing is keeping the number of refugees to an absolute minimum are making their way to the UK amid the worst refugee crisis since World War II.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ukraine-refugee-scheme-war-latest-b2038786.html Ukraine: Home for refugees program opens amid government allegations of failing to support Brits who are offering aid