Hundreds of residents across Aylesbury Vale and beyond offer support and homes to Ukrainian refugees

It is hoped that 50 refugees can find accommodation in the area

By James Lowson
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 4:32 pm

Almost 400 people living in the Thames Valley have offered accommodation and support to refugees fleeing Ukraine, new figures show.

Findings from the Diocese of Oxford show that nearly half of the people who offered support are able to house a Ukrainian.

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Across the country, 20 organisations are currently working together to help 1,000 Ukrainians resettle before Easter.

Already, more than two million people have fled the Ukraine since Russia invaded, in what is being called the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

In the past two weeks nearly 400 people contacted the diocese to register their interest in providing support.

The project falls under the Homes for Ukrainians scheme launched by the government in mid-March.

This scheme enables unlimited people to seek refuge in the UK - on the proviso they have direct family or a named sponsor here.

Under the government scheme, refugees are granted an initial visa of six months, which can be extended to a maximum of three years.

They are able to work and access benefits and healthcare immediately.

Sponsors provide rent-free housing for at least six months, and wraparound support is set to be provided by local councils through government funding.

Volunteers unable to offer shelter can get involved in the scheme in other ways.

Organisers are encouraging people capable of assisting with transport from the airport, paperwork advice and help, language classes, or tuition support to come forward.

Jonathan Cox, deputy director of Citizens UK and lead for their partnership with the Diocese of Oxford, said: “The Homes for Ukrainians scheme is an incredible opportunity to channel the outpouring of support for Ukrainians into practical action at a local level – and adds another important route, alongside asylum and resettlement, for those fleeing persecution to find sanctuary in the UK.”

“There is no better way to overcome our feelings of helplessness than to make a refugee family welcome in our local community, and we see here a possible blueprint for welcoming not just Ukrainians, but other refugees in the future too.”

Thames Valley residents can register an interest in supporting Ukrainians moving to the UK online here.