Homes for Ukraine: Refugees left homeless, UK community groups warn | Immigration and asylum

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A growing number of refugees are left homeless and in many cases destitute after relationship breakdowns with their Homes for Ukraine hosts in the UK, community organizations have said.

Some predict the system could collapse completely after reports that Ukrainian refugees have been asked to leave their sponsors’ homes with just one day’s notice, leaving them no choice but to be sent back to the local authorities as homeless or, if they can afford it, to try to find last-minute rental accommodation.

Community leaders said such incidents occur among generally well-meaning hosts who may not have anticipated the enormity of the commitment until refugees arrive home, adding to stress and trauma. new arrivals.

Other factors cited include cost, personality and culture clashes, hosts not setting house rules, misunderstandings, and communication issues.

Iryna Terlecky, board member of the Association of Ukrainians in Britain, said: “Our community sees these cases frequently and our perception is that they are increasing.”

They also report similar problems among those who arrived under the Ukrainian family program – caused either by space issues or relationship breakdowns. “We’re seeing sponsorship relationships break down — despite people’s very clear desire to help,” Terlecky said.

A 43-year-old Ukrainian woman told the Guardian she was left homeless, terrified and not knowing where to turn after being asked to leave by her Homes for Ukraine hosts after just over a week.

After the Russian invasion, she fled her 22nd-floor apartment in kyiv for Spain, but struggled to find work. She met her British hosts, a couple from Exeter, on Facebook who arranged her flights and documentation.

At first, she says, they all got along well and she felt “loved and cared for.” But their dynamic changed dramatically when she went to visit a man she had met online. Her hosts accused her of lying.

“It’s a terrible feeling,” she said, speaking from emergency council accommodation in a hotel. “You feel really happy and loved and cared for, and then you feel like you’ve been thrown from a high-rise building to the ground.”

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association said there had been a “worrying increase” in Ukrainian arrivals presenting themselves as homeless, and it urgently called for a rematching process so that refugees not be left in limbo. Government sources told the Observer that they were working on a “adjustment” service.

Marta Mulyak, who has taken in several Ukrainian families since the start of the war and is president of 1st London Plast, a Ukrainian scout group, said: “A lot of people say, ‘Of course I can give a Ukrainian a room.’ . But then the bills, the cost of food – people maybe don’t think about it until they come.

Many newly arrived refugees still experience the trauma of having lived in a war zone. Mulyak saw children falling to the ground after mistaking a loud noise for a bomb. “The Homes for Ukraine program has a lot of problems and will eventually lead to a total crash,” she said.

Anya Abdulakh, from Families4Peace, a charity that helps Ukrainians in north London, said she had recently been contacted by a woman who had come to the UK with her daughter to live with a woman she had met on Facebook.

But when they arrived, the host was going through a divorce and it turned out she was a strict vegetarian who didn’t want any meat in the house, which created tension. “The situation now is that she [the host] wants her to move as quickly as possible,” she said.

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Sara Nathan, co-founder of Refugees at Home, expects problems with the program to “remain quite acute for some time” – particularly once placements reach six months, the minimum time hosts must s ‘engage.

A spokesman for the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities said: ‘We do not recognize these claims – over 46,100 people have arrived through the two Ukrainian programs and the vast majority of them are settling well.

“Strict safeguards are in place for the Homes for Ukraine program and, according to council data reports, very few of these sponsorships are collapsing. Where they do, councils are able to provide support or find a more suitable sponsor.

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