Major expansion of support for Ukrainian refugees
Uttlesford District Council today (Tuesday 21 March) announced a major expansion of its work to support Ukrainian refugees settling in the district.
The council is already providing dedicated support to dozens of individuals and families who have fled the country to live with host families in the district but is now launching a new phase in this work to provide an even greater level of support.
The council has access to up to £1.3 million of central government funding to build on the work that it has already done. This money will be used to identify the precise needs of the Ukrainian community and then provide solutions - whether through existing schemes or, where no current support exists, by commissioning new services. Areas likely to be targeted include help with finding housing, support with understanding about local services such as health, leisure and education, improving language skills and job hunting.
The council will be establishing a programme board comprising representatives from the council and partner organisations, such as charities and faith groups, to oversee the work. It will also employ a dedicated member of staff to work directly with Ukrainian families.
Cllr Petrina Lees, Leader of Uttlesford District Council, said: "We are delighted to be able to use this government money to meet the needs of our Ukrainian guests. The proportion of the money we will end up spending is of course dependent on what they tell us they need.
"This is the start of a new conversation around areas such as accommodation, how to access health services, language skills, transport requirements, training opportunities, help finding employment and community integration.
"I am incredibly proud of the way this district has welcomed Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war a year ago and we want to build on the support we already offer to provide a long-term future in the district for those who need it. We want to ensure people can settle and thrive in this beautiful part of Essex and build a fulfilling new life here."
To start this conversation, the council is hosting three events for Ukrainian guests and host families. This will give an opportunity for the council and other agencies to listen to the views of Ukrainians and the generous district residents who are temporarily providing a place for them to live. These events build on similar sessions previously held in locations around the district.
All Ukrainian guests and host families are invited to one of three sessions being held next month:
· Thursday, 6 April - The Touchpoint Community Hub, Stansted, 2pm to 3.30pm
· Thursday, 13 April - Old School House, Takeley, 2pm to 3.30pm
· Saturday, 22 April - Mind in West Essex Community Space, High Street, Saffron Walden, 2pm to 3.30pm
For further information on these sessions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01799 510546.
Cllr Lees added: "The council and our voluntary sector partners want to listen in detail to ensure we target the available funding in the most effective way. These conversation sessions are the start of that process; more consultation and conversations will follow in the coming weeks and months. We are committed to providing the best possible support for people who have had to flee thousands of miles across Europe in search of a safe home."
The council acted quickly to establish or promote a range of support for Ukrainian people when the war began.
Through local charity Uttlesford Community Action Network, the council is working closely with a Ukrainian-speaking intermediary who liaises with Ukrainian guests and the authority's Housing Options Team to provide advice and support around finding accommodation once current host family arrangements come to an end.
Other existing support includes access to the council's Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme, through which any resident, without sufficient means to meet the normally sizeable deposit required when looking to rent in the private sector, can apply.
The council publishes a wealth of information for hosts and their Ukrainian guests on its website, including information for residents on how to become a sponsor and a range of local and national resources such as how to support the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.
There are also many links to information to help Ukrainian people settling in the area, from how to access banking and health services to advice on getting pets into this country.
In addition, a survey remains active for hosts and guests so the council can continue to target its resources on the most effective support for hosts and guests.
All of this can be found at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/support-for-ukraine
21 March 2023