Many people across Britain have offered accommodation to support people fleeing from Ukraine. As of 29 March, over 200 people in Devon have put themselves forward as a sponsor.
This page provides an overview of the process as we currently understand it, including what happens after you have registered.
It will be updated as we gain more guidance from the government and as we develop a support programme in Devon.
We are required by the government to carry out a series of checks on sponsors, and associated members of their households, and to prioritise the safety of guests arriving from Ukraine. We recognise that there is an urgent requirement to support people in Ukraine, but the Homes for Ukraine scheme does not replace and cannot conflict with our overarching statutory duties relating to safeguarding and keeping people safe.
There are several checks that we and our partners are required to carry out, on all adult members (over 16 years) of the household, which could disqualify you from the Homes for Ukraine scheme. These include:
You may also be ineligible if:
With safety being our overriding priority, if a sponsor (or a member of their household) fails on any check we are obliged to take action. If guests are yet to travel, the match will be cancelled with the Homes for Ukraine scheme. If guests have arrived, we will review the situation.
To become a recognised sponsor, and to qualify for any payments and support, you must register on the Homes for Ukraine website, managed and run by the UK government.
You must be prepared:
You should check with your mortgage and home insurance providers that you will not be breaking their terms and conditions. The Association of British Insurers have said:
If you are a homeowner in the UK and want to temporarily house refugees who have been displaced from the conflict in Ukraine as non-paying guests in your home, you do not need to inform your insurer and your cover will remain the same. This applies for the first 12 months of any refugees living with you, including when your policy is due for renewal. After 12 months, if any refugees are still living with you, then you should tell your insurer when you next renew your policy.
If you rent, you must have permission from the property owner/landlord, and they in turn will need to ensure that by providing permission it does not break the terms of their insurance.
Additionally, you should give careful thought to your ability:
You should also consider if the location of your accommodation is suitable in terms of easy access to services, for example, public transport, schools and shops.
The UK government has published guidance for sponsors and answers to some frequently asked questions.
Once you have registered on the Homes for Ukraine site you have three options.
Reset Communities and Refugees launched (1 April) a matching and training service for sponsors and refugees under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, with support from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). It brings together sponsors and refugees and assesses their eligibility and suitability for the scheme. It will also provide training and advice to the sponsors and community groups. You can read more about the launch in their announcement and you can register on their website.
Reset is currently accepting applications from potential sponsors and from refugees hoping to come to the UK. They are processing applications, making matches, and providing training and support. Find out more and register, as a sponsor or Ukrainian, on their website: www.homesforukraine.org.uk
Alternatively, the government advises that “a number of charities and non-government organisations are working to offer services to match potential sponsors and Ukrainian households seeking to come to the UK”.
Once registered on the government site you may wish to approach a charity and register your interest with them. Some national charities working in this field include:
In Devon, the Diocese of Exeter has partnered with the charity Citizens UK to act as a key sponsor in Devon to coordinate providing homes for Ukrainian refugees and ongoing support. You can register your expression of interest by filling in their online form.
If you are in North Devon and Torridge, the Pickwell Foundation has five years of coordinating community sponsorship and is encouraging sponsors to register with them and is providing support materials and advice.
The third option is to find a match yourself. People will need the name of a Ukrainian individual or family they wish to sponsor. The government advises you to “get in contact with them directly and prepare to fill in a visa application with all their details and yours”. There are no officially recognised methods for doing this, and care must be taken to ensure you are confident in who you are in contact with. Cases of fraud are rising and misleading information could present a safety risk to either sponsors or guests. There is one charity providing a facility to find matches, OPORA, but the service it provides comes with a strongly worded disclaimer.
The government has published a limited number of frequently asked questions on linking with a guest.
Once you have identified and contacted a Ukrainian person or family that you wish to host, you or the Ukrainian person must apply for a visa.
A separate form must be completed for everyone who wishes to be sponsored and is intending to travel. You can fill in the form together.
You can apply for a visa on the government’s website which also contains some additional guidance.
There is no formal support for organising travel to the UK. Many operators are however providing free or cheap fares.
More information will be published here as it becomes available.
Many travel operators are providing free travel within the UK. Please check with local operators to find out what they are offering.
Ukrainian arrivals who have entered the UK will be able to travel free of charge on the national rail network by showing their Ukrainian passport and a boarding pass or ticket showing arrival into the UK.
They will have 48 hours from arrival in the UK to complete their journey.
The scheme applies to all train operators in Britain, and many bus and coach operators are also offering free onward travel to final destinations.
More information is on the National Rail Enquiries website.
National Express is offering free travel for Ukrainian arrivals who arrive in the UK to travel to a destination of their choice.
Free travel can be arranged from a UK arrival point to another location currently served on the National Express network.
Individuals are encouraged to contact National Express in advance to guarantee their journey but they will also accept turn up and go travel (subject to availability).
Individuals will have 48 hours to make their onward journey from arrival in the country.
More information is available from National Express.
Once you are matched with a Ukraine citizen or family, and the visa application is completed, the Home Office passes your information to Devon County Council.
As a first step, Devon County Council is required to do a check with the Disclosure and Barring Service of all adults over 16 in your household.
We have an overriding duty to ensure that people and families arriving from Ukraine are safe. This process may in some cases happen after your guests from Ukraine have arrived.
You will receive an email inviting you to complete a DBS application online. There are three main stages:
Other members of the household over 16 will subsequently be emailed to start their DBS check.
There is a range of documents that each person will need to produce to verify their identity. These are listed on our DBS documents page. To save time ahead of the team making contact, please check through and get your chosen documents in one place.
Please be aware that the DBS check, the video call and any follow-up checks on additional members of the household will not happen instantly. If you have filled the form in with contact details a member of the team will be in touch, please be patient.
We have received reassurance from DLUHC that the DBS check process is not a requirement for issuing a visa and the associated permission to travel, and the DBS may well be completed after any Ukraine nationals arrive.
We are working through a considerable number of lead sponsors plus additional members of households, and whilst we are moving as quickly as we can, there will be a delay. Further information and updates will be published on this website as we have them.
The compassion and generosity shown by the people of Devon in supporting those that have had to flee Ukraine has been enormous and we are so proud of the number of people willing to provide a safe place for individuals and families to live.
The safety of all concerned is our top priority and with that in mind, we have published guidance for sponsors on what to expect from a home visit. This will provide you with an idea of the types of safety checks and considerations that will be needed once you begin sharing your home.
All lead sponsors will be contacted by their local district council to arrange the inspection of the property or properties that they have offered. We are working across all councils to do these checks as fast as possible, but you will appreciate that there are many properties to visit, and it will take some time to get to them all.
Aside from keeping sponsors, their households, and arriving Ukrainian guests safe, the UK government ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme requires us to carry out a housing check. However, this will happen in most cases after your guests have arrived, and has no bearing on the visa application process.
Our staff will of course help to reassure you about any worries you might have and will talk to you about, for example, your own support network, your community and any rules/boundaries you might wish to set in advance.
There is a one-off £200 payment for each guest. This will be paid by your district, city or borough council.
You are also entitled to a £350 per month ‘thank you’ payment from the government. This is optional and we realise that not everyone will want to claim this. If claimed, it will be paid by your district, city or borough council. Payments will start once all the checks have been passed and your guests have arrived.
More information will be published here as soon as it becomes available.
For sponsors and guests in the East Devon District Council area:
For sponsors and guests in the Mid Devon District Council area:
Further details can be found on the Mid Devon Council website.
For sponsors and guests in the North Devon District Council area:
Further details can be found on the North Devon Council website or contact the Council by email or phone 01271 388870.
For sponsors and guests in the South Hams District Council area:
For further details please visit the South Hams website or email SupportForUkraine@swdevon.gov.uk.
For sponsors and guests in the Teignbridge District Council area:
Further details can be found on the Teignbridge District Council website.
For sponsors and guests in the West Devon Borough Council area:
For further details please visit the West Devon website or email SupportForUkraine@swdevon.gov.uk.