Since the launch of the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme two weeks ago, over 200,000 people have registered their interest to open their homes to refugees from Ukraine seeking urgent safety in the UK. This overwhelming outpouring of public generosity is truly incredible and shows what a welcoming and compassionate nation we can be.
That hosting can play an important role in providing safety and stability to people escaping war, conflict and persecution is no surprise to those familiar with the NACCOM network. For many years, our members across the UK have been operating hosting schemes that enable people within the asylum and immigration system to move on from homelessness and destitution and rebuild their lives.
Whilst there was undoubtedly an acute need to implement an emergency pathway for Ukrainians wishing to seek refuge in UK, the hasty roll-out of the scheme has resulted in concerns and confusion around how Homes for Ukraine will work in practice. NACCOM, alongside other leading refugee and anti-exploitation charities, has warned that the scheme in its present form is potentially dangerous for refugees who have fled Ukraine, putting them at risk of trafficking and exploitation.
The experience of our members tells us that hosting works best when the right time, support and consideration has been given to facilitating a positive and safe hosting placement. With the proper vetting and matching of hosts and guests, property checks, training to ensure a trauma-informed response and ongoing support within an appropriate community setting, hosting can provide a key pathway to safety for refugees.
It is also vital for the effective roll-out of Homes for Ukraine – and any future refugee protection scheme that needs to be deployed at pace – that hosting is understood to be a unique and distinct type of accommodation provision that will work best within a structured, holistic refugee resettlement pathway, which must be underpinned by a fair and just asylum system.