Advice if you are a host living in Wales and sponsoring a person or family from Ukraine.
This guidance is for hosts and sponsors in Wales. Although the principles of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme are the same across the UK, differences exist for some public services. For this reason, if you host or sponsor a person or family from Ukraine in Wales, you should refer to the guidance in this document.
If you are thinking about becoming a host we encourage you to attend one of our ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru to find out more about the role, and if it is right for you.
Guidance will be regularly updated on the Welsh Government website, so please ensure you regularly check back here for the latest advice and support.
Thank you and purpose of the guide
Wales is the first ever ‘Nation of Sanctuary’. As people from Ukraine arrive in Wales, we want to ensure they are supported to ensure their safety and sanctuary, and to have access to public services to support them.
There are few things in life more difficult than being forced to flee your country and start a new life. In supporting someone who has been displaced from their home, it is highly likely there will be a learning curve for both you and the person or family you are hosting. In this guide you should find practical advice and helpful links on how best you can support the person or family you sponsor.
By opening your home and by offering your time and generosity, you will be living up to the values we all cherish and become part of a long and rich Welsh tradition of extending compassion to those most in need. We hope you find this experience a rewarding one.
This scheme draws on the enormous goodwill of the Welsh public. By becoming a sponsor or host, you have become a central part of a national effort driven by compassion. The Welsh Government, charities, faith groups, businesses, local authorities and communities are working together to make a success of this scheme and give people fleeing war a proper chance to build a new life in Wales.
Under Homes for Ukraine, people living in Wales can directly sponsor Ukrainians to come to Wales. Sponsorship means supporting a visa application and committing to provide accommodation for at least 6 months. Hosting is the process of providing accommodation for Ukrainians (usually in your own home). Sponsors usually provide the initial accommodation placement for Ukrainians under the Homes for Ukraine scheme but Ukrainians may later be hosted by you in a secondary accommodation placement or subsequent placements.
The Welsh Government’s Sanctuary website provides information about rights and entitlements for people coming from Ukraine. It is important that you make those you host aware of this website to help them to settle into Wales. You may also find this website helpful to aid you in answering queries about Wales from the individuals or family you are hosting.
How does the sponsorship scheme work?
The UK Government has created two new visa schemes for people from Ukraine: the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. This guidance is for sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which is the route the UK Government has set up for people fleeing Ukraine who do not have family in the UK.
The UK Government designed the scheme to enable people to offer accommodation for a minimum of 6 months and for that to be matched to people from Ukraine wanting to come to the UK. The sponsor and the person from Ukraine need to connect outside the system and the Ukrainian applicant nominates their UK-based sponsor during the application process.
An organisation called RESET has been commissioned by the UK Government to help facilitate links between people from Ukraine and sponsors who have no prior connections. Further information is available on the RESET website.
We encourage you to utilise established matching services like RESET, rather than informal social media matching, to enable you to fully understand the responsibilities which you will have as a Sponsor and to support more compatible matches.
Hosting is not a new concept in the UK but a mass participation scheme like Homes for Ukraine is unprecedented. NACCOM (the no accommodation network) has provided advice and support to people acting as hosts for refugees and asylum seekers for many years. They have produced toolkits to help sponsors consider if hosting is right for them. RESET has also created a toolkit for Sponsors.
As soon as you have a connection with a named person that you wish to sponsor you should be ready to complete a visa application with them. Sponsors in the UK can be any status and nationality, as long as they have at least 6 months’ residency left. It is very important that sponsors are certain they are in a position to offer a stable home for the next 6 months.
Sponsorship extends to the immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals and there are no limits to how many people can be helped through the scheme. Applicants must meet some basic pre-departure security checks. They will have an initial visa allowing them to live and work in the UK for 6 months, during which time they may need to provide biometric details at a visa centre in the UK. Once applicants have done this, their visa will be extended to 3 years.
Super Sponsor Scheme
As part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Wales has become a Super Sponsor which offers another route to sanctuary here in Wales. We have provided Ukrainians with support and care at our initial accommodation across Wales, which has allowed applicants to travel without being matched with a host. From 10 June 2022, the Super Sponsor route was temporarily paused for new applications to allow time for arrangements to be made for the next stage of accommodation. All applications made before 10 June 2022 will still be processed so that existing visa holders can travel and be supported as originally planned. This means that you could help families due to arrive on that route by offering a host placement, or you could play an important part in helping a guest move on from initial accommodation. There are many Ukrainians living in initial accommodation in Wales, such as in a welcome centre or hotel, that would benefit from living in a hosting arrangement, in a home where you could support them with their next steps to independent living. Others may have had their hosting arrangement come to an end and wish to find another host who can offer them a placement. Your local authority can support you in finding a match through this route.
Things you need to consider before hosting or sponsoring
Hosting or sponsoring people from another country is an extremely generous thing to do, but it is a huge commitment, and you should ask yourself if your property has:
- enough space to live comfortably
- easy access to affordable public transport
- shops and restaurants nearby
- employment opportunities in the area
- schools and education facilities nearby
- opportunities to socialise in the area
Hosting can be a very rewarding experience, but there are some important things you should think about before agreeing to host such as:
- extra household costs with more people living in your home
- communicating with guests who don’t speak your first language fluently
- changes in your household when sharing your home with guests and how others may feel about this
- differences in living habits, including household tasks and eating preferences
- deciding on boundaries and how you want to live together
You should meet the guest first, by video call, or face to face if they’re already in the UK, to find out more about them and their needs, and to be clear about the terms of the accommodation arrangements.
You can ask your local authority to help you to set up a meeting with the guest in a neutral location.
The decision to become a host family should involve everyone living in the household.
What checks need to be done?
To be confirmed as a sponsor you must be over the age of 18 years old and based in the UK; with at least 6 months permission to be in the UK. You can be of any nationality. You will need to prove your identity using a recognised identity document for ID check. You must also have a spare room or separate self-contained residential accommodation that is unoccupied. The accommodation must be available for at least six months, be fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated.
To ensure you meet the requirements for approval as a sponsor, the Home Office will conduct a Police National Computer check and a Warnings Index check on you. Security checks will also be undertaken on all adults aged 18 and over who will be living in the same household as the person or family arriving from Ukraine. The Home Office will make these checks when considering the visa application. If, as a result, the Home Office considers that you are not an appropriate sponsor, they may refuse the visa application. Affected Ukrainians are likely to be offered an opportunity to find another prospective sponsor in these circumstances. Reasons for you not meeting the requirements for approval as a sponsor may include: the provision of false or inaccurate information; criminal convictions; immigration offences; or other illegal activity.
As the lead sponsor, you will need to ask the consent of all adults in the household to provide their details on the application form for these checks.
After the application is submitted, your local authority will ensure you, and all adults living with you, undergo DBS checks and your property is inspected. The local authority will seek to undertake these checks before your individual or family arrives, but they may take place shortly after arrival. Your local authority has the discretion to ask for enhanced DBS checks.
Rent must not be charged to the person or family you are hosting under the scheme. All accommodation will be different, but your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards and include furniture and immediate basics like bedding and towels. We have set out some specific guidance in Annex A.
Opening your home is an extremely generous thing to do but sharing your living space may present some challenges. Potential tensions can often be avoided by having an open discussion about expectations pre-arrival or shortly after your guest arrives. Some things you may want to consider and agree with your guest could include things such as:
- agreeing if and where smoking or alcohol is permitted in the home
- a reasonable time for when the house should be quieter
- how the guest is to treat the property or that part of the property being occupied by the guest
- how communal spaces will be shared
- who is to be responsible for paying utility bills (see reasonable contributions towards living costs)
- how the hosting arrangement is to be ended by either party
- what boundaries are absolutely essential to each party
Your local authority case-worker can support you with this, or you could contact Housing Justice Cymru who can talk you through how best to facilitate this conversation with your guest from early on.
If it is helpful you may wish to use a model excluded agreement. The model agreement will not convert this arrangement into a tenancy, so long as you do not charge rent.
There are 2 kinds of model agreement that could be used; an Excluded Licence Agreement or an Excluded Tenancy Agreement. There is no requirement to use either kind of agreement as part of the sponsorship scheme, but it could be helpful in ensuring all parties are clear on the terms of their arrangement. Some mortgage lenders may ask for a licence agreement to be used.
If your guests are sharing accommodation with you, for example using guest bedrooms and sharing a kitchen with you, the Excluded Licence Agreement is most suitable (also available in Ukrainian and Russian).
If your guests are living in self-contained accommodation (such as a holiday let) then the Excluded Tenancy Agreement is most suitable (also available in Ukrainian and Russian).
Local authorities will make at least 1 in-person visit shortly after a person has arrived, to confirm that the accommodation is suitable, the person is well and that there are no serious safeguarding, or welfare concerns. Additional visits may take place. For more information on the role of local authorities, read: Homes for Ukraine: guidance for local authorities.
If you are a leaseholder, you will need to check the terms of your lease to see if you are permitted to have lodgers or subtenants.
If you don’t know what permissions your lease requires you to secure, you can get free advice from the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE). You can also make a telephone appointment with one of LEASE’s advisers by calling 020 7832 2500, or make an appointment online.
If you rent your property, your tenancy agreement might include a term that says you need permission from your landlord before you host a guest.
Any terms in your tenancy agreement that do not allow you to take in lodgers or subtenants will also apply to these sponsorship arrangements. If you do need permission, it’s best to get this in writing.
If you don’t know what your tenancy agreement requires to host someone from Ukraine, you can get free advice from Citizens Advice or Shelter.
You can contact Citizens Advice through the national phone service on:
Adviceline (Wales): 0800 702 2020
For Shelter, look at the find out where to get the right advice page.
If you can offer your guest self-contained accommodation, you should agree with your guest who will pay the council tax.
Irrespective of whether your guest is with you or in your self contained accommodation, you will still be required to undertake the hosting checks in order to receive the host payment.
Hosting someone already in the UK (rematching)
Your local authority might ask you to house a guest or group of guests that have left their first host, either because their previous host is no longer able to support them, or the initial sponsorship period has come to an end, or if they have been placed in one of our initial accommodations such as a hotel or welcome centre where by hosting you could support them with their next steps to independent living.
You should think about what you need to know before you accommodate a guest.
Guests already living in the UK and wanting to ‘rematch’ usually need less support than someone who has recently arrived in the country. Many guests have already found work, developed networks and are settling into the local area; making them more self-sufficient and most likely to require less support from their host.
If you are asked through social media or a community group to host a guest or family who is already in the UK, you need to contact your local authority immediately to make sure that they can make the necessary checks. As part of the super sponsor scheme you must have had the relevant accommodation and DBS checks passed before a placement is approved. Without these checks being completed, you will not be entitled to the ‘thank you’ payments.
If you don’t do this, the rematch won’t be recognised as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and you won’t be eligible for the ‘thank you’ payment until the checks have been completed. Make sure you think about the potential risks if you host a guest without any checks.
Foster carers who are considering becoming a sponsor
UK Government has announced a visa scheme for Ukrainian children who can be wholly unaccompanied, to come to Wales. Any household that already fosters children that may wish to sponsor children via this route should speak directly with their local authority, fostering or adoption service in the first instance and also the local authority/authorities for any children already living in their care. Fostering regulations, guidance and standards must be followed for all fostering households currently caring for a child or young person, including the necessary checks and references for adults.
In Wales we are experiencing an ongoing shortage of foster carers to care for vulnerable children from Wales and unaccompanied asylum seeking children from other parts of the world. Foster carers who have capacity to support additional children should approach their fostering service to establish whether they can offer support to these children.
Mortgage and household insurance
In some cases, you’ll need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, to find out if they’ve got any policies which you need to consider.
It’s important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before your guest arrives in the UK.
Insurers have agreed that for homeowners accommodating people coming from Ukraine in their home, there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that they are accommodated as non-paying guests.
For more details, look at the Association of British Insurers’ statement.
In other situations, including where the sponsor is a landlord or a tenant, you will need to contact your insurer.
Lenders have committed to enable as many borrowers as possible to participate in the scheme. If you have a mortgage on the property you will need to refer to the lender’s website for more instructions.
If you are considering applying to be a sponsor look at your mortgage lender’s and insurer’s websites for more information or contact them directly.
Interim payment for guests
When a guest arrives on the Homes for Ukraine scheme they are eligible for an interim payment of £200 for subsistence costs before they are able to access Universal Credit or a job. This will be administered by the local authority where the sponsor’s accommodation is located. The £200 payment does not need to be repaid. The £200 belongs to the arriving Ukrainian and should not be requested by the Sponsor or host. Local authorities will also have discretion to top-up or provide further support to arriving Ukrainians with additional payments.
The payment is intended for guests only, and is not to be used by the host.
Thank you payments
You will want to be certain that you are in a secure position to offer a stable home to someone who needs it. Subject to DBS checks above and approval from the local authority that the accommodation on offer is of a suitable standard. If you do not engage with the DBS check, you will not receive a payment and the Local Authority may prevent or end a hosting arrangement with you if this is not completed in a timely manner.
You have the option to receive a monthly payment, paid in arrears, for as long as you are hosting the person or family from Ukraine. The UK Government will pay £350 where your guest has been in the UK for less than 12 months but will uplift this standard £350 thank you payment to £500 where your guest has already been in the UK for more than 12 months. The Welsh Government and local authorities want to retain as many hosting placements as possible and has therefore decided to uplift payments to £500 per month where your guests have been in the UK for less than 12 months. This means that every host in Wales will receive at least £500 per month during 2023 to 2024. You will claim payments through the local authority, who will take your bank details and talk you through the process.
The £500 payment is intended to help you cover costs associated with helping out and is a ‘thank you payment’. It does not constitute rent or any other kind of contractual payment. Hosts must not charge rent to individuals or families they are hosting. Charging a rent may have the effect of turning a hosting arrangement into a tenancy with rights bestowed on the individuals or family you are hosting.
You will be eligible for the first monthly payment once the local authority has verified that DBS and accommodation checks are satisfactory.
Regardless of how many people you are hosting, there can only be one payment per residential address and in Wales it will be sent to you through your local authority. It may take some time to process payments, but these will be backdated. For sponsors who receive welfare payments, the UK Government is ensuring ‘thank you payments’ do not affect your benefit entitlement and remain tax-free. ‘Thank you payments’ will not affect any council tax discounts for single occupancy. If the person or family you are hosting moves out of your home for any reason, you must inform your local authority at the earliest opportunity. You will also need to let them know that you are no longer eligible for monthly payments.
Reasonable contributions towards living costs
It is important that hosts and guests have open and regular conversations about paying towards different living costs, such as food, transport and household utility bills. This means that everyone knows what is expected of them from the outset, which will hopefully help avoid any potential difficulties during the placement.
Sponsors are not expected to cover the costs of food, although some may wish to assist in the early days, especially when their guests first arrive, e.g. some sponsors may wish to offer meals to their guests while they initially settle.
Every person coming to the UK through the Homes for Ukraine scheme is entitled to work and to apply for universal credit/benefits. Sponsors and hosts can ask their guests for a reasonable and proportionate contribution (according to use) for water, gas or electricity consumed or supplied to the accommodation or to any shared facilities. Some hosts may not wish to ask for any contribution depending on their own financial circumstances.
When thinking about what amount would be reasonable and proportionate for a guest to contribute, we strongly advise that not only is this agreed jointly with the guest but that their individual circumstances are taken into consideration. There are a range of different scenarios that may affect your guest, such as delays in receiving their universal credits/benefits payments entitlements or having to support family members who depend on them in Ukraine. Hosted guests will not be eligible for the housing benefit element of Universal Credit but they will be eligible for the Universal Credit standard allowance which is expected to cover food and essential costs. If you are hosting a large family, bear in mind that the family may be affected by the Benefit Cap.
For guests who take up employment, it should not be assumed that they are able to pay increased contributions as they may be receiving the minimum wage or are employed in zero hours or other insecure occupations. This is why regular, open conversations are important as they will allow for a range of all factors to be considered.
Although sponsors or hosts may ask for a contribution towards household bills, guests are not obliged to pay towards their stay as a condition of their visa. Under no circumstances should guests be asked to pay any rent. It is also important that guests are not asked to make unrealistic financial contributions.
Talking about money can feel uncomfortable and is a difficult topic to raise. If you would like some support before initiating this conversation, you can speak with a Host Support Coordinator at Housing Justice Cymru to discuss how to go about a conversation around financial contributions with your guest.
On arrival, every guest will be provided with a £200 interim payment to help with immediate subsistence costs. This interim payment is intended to provide support to the arrivals until their Universal Credit application is processed. We advise guests to ask for Advance Payments when they apply for Universal Credit to ensure they do not have to wait up to 5 weeks for additional support. The Interim Payment will be administered by the local authority, and can be used for essential items which many people from Ukraine will arrive without.
You will not incur any additional council tax costs by becoming a host.
How do I welcome people from Ukraine?
The most important thing is that you are able to provide at least 6 months of stable and suitable accommodation. This can be anything from an empty room to an unoccupied home, as long as it is safe and free from health hazards. We are asking for sponsors or hosts who can at least offer an empty room, to ensure the safety and privacy of guests. A bed in a shared space would not be an appropriate offer of accommodation for 6 months. More information is provided in the accommodation section of the guide and at annex A.
There are several things, in addition to offering accommodation, that you can do to help the person or family you are hosting to settle-in.
Collection from the airport/port
While you are not required to, you can arrange to collect the person you are hosting from the airport or port when they arrive in the UK. If this is not possible, please let them know how best to reach your home from their arrival point. Ukrainian arrivals are eligible for a single onward journey via national rail, light rail, bus and coach, free of charge to their final destination. In addition, Transport for Wales (TfW) has established a free travel scheme to enable people from Ukraine (and other refugees) to travel free on any TfW services, after showing their passport or other immigration status documentation to conductors and station staff. The Welsh Government has also worked with bus operators to develop a voluntary free travel scheme called the ‘Welcome Ticket’. Further information about these travel schemes and a list of participating bus companies is available on the Welsh Government website.
Transport and getting around
The person or family you are hosting is unlikely to be familiar with the layout of your local area or how to get around easily. Some practical advice on things like getting to and from your home, where the local shops are, and where to catch buses and trains will go a long way. As a sponsor, you are not expected to provide transport throughout their stay.
Your guest is entitled to use the free travel scheme in Wales, which provides unlimited travel on:
- all local bus services
- Transport for Wales rail services across Wales
- bus and Transport for Wales train services that start and finish in Wales
The scheme is in place until 30 June 2023. Arrangements for after 1 July 2023 are being considered.
Registering with a GP
Registration with a local GP as soon as possible, even if they are not ill, is a crucial part of helping someone to settle in the UK. We advise you to help the individuals or family you are hosting to do this.
You could help the person or family you are hosting to contact your chosen practice and ask to be included on their patient list. Alternatively, your local health board will have a list of all GP surgeries in your area:NHS Wales health board and trusts.
Anyone in Wales has the right to register and receive treatment from a GP. You do not need a fixed address or identification. If an interpreter is required, it may be helpful to talk to the GP surgery in advance. Everyone has the right to request and be provided with an interpreter by healthcare providers at no cost. If there are any problems you can call 111 in Wales (which is free to call) or 0845 46 47.
Registering with a Dentist
In addition to registering with a GP, it is advisable for the person or family you are hosting to register with a dentist.
It is recognised that some dental practices may not have capacity for NHS patients.
The options here include:
- contact a few local NHS practices and enquire
- contact your local health board via their helpline (NHS 111 Wales, Services Near You: Dental Services), as they keep a list of practices
- if an emergency, contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647
Opening a bank account
It is important that people seeking sanctuary from Ukraine open a bank account as soon as possible. It would be useful to let them know that there are a range of banks they can choose from, including online-only providers. To open a bank account, a person will usually need to show a form of identification such as a passport or a driver’s licence or a recognised identity card as well as proof of address. Further information on how to open a bank account is available on the Sanctuary website.
Assisting those who are eligible to access financial assistance
If the person or family members you are hosting are old enough to work, they will be able to apply to receive Universal Credit. During the application process, people should ask about advance payments if they need money sooner than 5 weeks. Many arrivals will be eligible for this but advance payments need to be requested. People from Ukraine who are of pensionable age will have access to State Pension Credit, provided they meet eligibility criteria. Citizens Advice Cymru can provide advice on welfare benefits. Or phone: 0800 702 2020. You can call between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.
Supporting with access to education
All children and young people arriving under the Ukrainian schemes have the right to access education and childcare whilst in the UK.
Access to education will be key for children, both in terms of ensuring that their education is disrupted for as short a time as possible, but also to ensure that they feel welcome and begin to settle into their new communities. You could help the family staying with you, by seeking information about local schools and the admissions process from your local authority website.
When your Ukrainian guest(s) have been offered a school place they should respond to their local authority and advise whether they are accepting the offer. If your guest(s) has decided to make their own educational arrangements, for example ‘home-school’ they must let the local authority know so that further advice, support and guidance can be provided to the family where necessary.
TB screening and access to education
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy (abdomen), glands, bones and nervous system.
TB is a potentially serious condition, but it can be cured if it's treated with the right antibiotics.
All individuals aged 11 and over will be offered screening for TB.
TB screening and treatment are free.
All children (up to the age of 18) with no obvious symptoms of active TB can attend an education setting without delay and will be offered a chest x-ray as soon as practicable.
Should an individual display symptoms of active TB they should contact their GP for investigation, and should not enter education until these investigations have concluded, or they have undergone treatment and are no longer contagious.
Symptoms of active TB include:
- a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks and usually brings up phlegm, which may be bloody
- weight loss
- night sweats
- high temperature (fever)
- tiredness and fatigue
- loss of appetite
- swellings in the neck
People seeking sanctuary from Ukraine have the right to work as soon as they have been given a visa to stay in the UK from Ukraine. If this is something they want to action quickly, you could signpost them towards employment support from Working Wales who will support them with free advice, guidance and access to training to help them get into work, at a time that is right for them. More information is available from the Sanctuary website and Working Wales.
Ukrainians arriving under Homes for Ukraine must not be charged rent. We recognise that some sponsors are also offering employment opportunities, but Ukrainians must not be required to take up or continue in employment in order to maintain their accommodation. Labour must not be expected for free or underpaid, including domestic services and seasonal agricultural work, in exchange for accommodation and/or food.
The dominant languages in Ukraine are Ukrainian and Russian. You should not expect your guests to be able speak or read English. Free online translation services may be helpful in communicating in the early phases of a match; however, users should note that these are not always accurate.
Where the guest is accessing public services, interpreters may be required. When accessing Health services, NHS providers have a duty to provide interpretation. Department for Work and Pensions can usually source interpretation services when requested too. Unfortunately, not all services will have interpretation services available but it is always worth asking.
You and your guest can find out about English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses available under ‘’Schools and Learning’ in the “Your Local Area” section of the Sanctuary website.
Working Wales can also provide help with accessing ESOL courses. While these are usually free, there may be funding support available where lack of English language skills are a barrier to work.
Driving in Wales
If your guest has a full driving licence issued in Ukraine, they can use this licence to drive small vehicles (such as motorcycles, cars, and vehicles up to 3500kgs or with up to 8 passenger seats) for up to a year in the UK. The licence must cover the vehicle being driven and must still be valid. This can continue for 12 months. This can then switch to a UK licence up to 5 years after becoming resident without having to pass a new driving test. Your guest can find out more about driving in Wales on the Sanctuary website. You can help support your guest to understand the importance of ensuring that their vehicles are taxed and insured, with an up to date MOT.
Settling into life in Wales
You can support the person or family you are hosting to settle into life in Wales. The first thing to do will be to make sure they’re comfortable in their accommodation and setup with the basics. They should have enough food and essential supplies like toiletries and it’s worth checking that they’ve got access to a mobile phone and the internet so they can stay in touch with family and friends.
You should help your guest become familiar with the Welsh Government Sanctuary website which can help Ukrainians with a range of queries they may have about life in Wales, such as driving licence queries to educational and employment information, and lots more information based on questions we have found are important to our Ukrainian guests. The website will also help your guest to overcome barriers in accessing support.
The Welsh Government’s Wales Sanctuary Service (run on our behalf by Welsh Refugee Council) can provide advice and advocacy to Ukrainian arrivals. This includes a dedicated virtual peer support forum. The forum will help Ukrainians to connect with each other and discuss shared opportunities and challenges encountered in Wales. The service also includes immigration legal advice provided by Asylum Justice, where required.
Ukrainian guests can access the service for help via 0808 196 7273 or by contacting: email@example.com.
By coming forward as a sponsor or host you have already done a wonderful thing. You are supporting a person or a family fleeing war who may be significantly distressed and vulnerable. We know that once in Wales, you will provide a warm welcome along with generosity, understanding and support. A range of services are available to help you and the person or family you are hosting, these include those listed below.
By openly talking with your guest about each other’s boundaries and expectations from the outset, you can support each other to make the hosting arrangement a success. Checking in with each other about how the placement is going will be helpful for all parties and allow opportunities to address any issues early.
Anyone arriving in Wales from the Ukraine will be able to access mainstream mental health services. GP registration is essential. Initial health screening by GPs / primary care practice for those arriving from the Ukraine is expected to include an assessment for mental health conditions. Any necessary treatment will be provided as it would be for any other patient either by the primary care team, or through referral to Local Primary Mental Health Support Services (LPMHSS), the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
You or the person you are hosting can contact the CALL mental health helpline on 0800 132 737 or TEXT 81066. The CALL helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The helpline can give support and information on mental health to people in Wales and people seeking sanctuary from Ukraine can ask for someone to speak with them in their own language. CALL will also be able to signpost you or the person you are hosting to support that is available locally.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Support Hub have developed resources and leaflets explaining the effects of being exposed to distressing events, which have been translated into multiple languages.
- a leaflet on health and wellbeing support for displaced people
- a leaflet on help for people who have experienced distressing events
- a navigating the storm animation
The ACE Support Hub has also published a helpful guidance document for sponsors and hosts called Support for Displaced People in Wales in Private Accommodation. The document includes helpful links to a number of different resources.
There is also a specific leaflet prepared by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on coping after a traumatic event, which contains information for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, or who knows someone who has: Coping after a traumatic event (Royal College of Psychiatrists).
For more information you can visit:
Refugees and Asylum Seekers on Sanctuary Wales.
The leaflet developed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists is referenced in useful Resources for Refugee and Asylum Seekers - All Wales Traumatic Stress Quality Improvement In.
The Sanctuary Website also includes information on health and wellbeing for people arriving from the Ukraine.
Health boards across Wales have posted guidance around access to mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information and contact details regarding mental health services available locally and can be found in annex B
There are a number of local and national charities providing front line support services for people seeking sanctuary, and often there is capacity to provide support in multiple community languages, some of these services are listed in annex C
NHS Direct has an interpretation service which helps people who do not speak English or Welsh to get help in a language of their choice. More information about the help NHS Direct Wales can give to those who do not speak English or Welsh can be found on the Sanctuary Wales website.
It might be useful to reassure the person or people staying with you that their health needs will not affect their immigration status or affect what NHS services are available to them. A translation is available on the Sanctuary Wales website to support you with this.
Another helpful resource is Dewis Cymru which is an online database of health and wellbeing services across Wales. You can search this database for community organisations that can offer help to refugees.
Cruse Bereavement Support has published information in Ukrainian on understanding and dealing with grief. The articles are available for your guest and can be downloaded or printed. The articles include step-by-step instructions on how to call the Cruse helpline and receive help via an interpreter.
They also have an article on their website about traumatic loss in conflict and war. Although this has not been translated, it may be a real help to you as a sponsor or host to understand what your guest may have experienced.
It may also be useful to let the person you are hosting know how to access emergency healthcare. Let them know the purpose of the 999 emergency service and the role of Emergency Departments (Accident and Emergency) if they or a family member has an accident or a sudden serious illness. For urgent medical advice or help that is not life-threatening call NHS 111.
Online training is available that is free to access and can help you to understand more about safeguarding. We encourage you to take time to go through this training. Visit the Learning@Wales website.
Safeguarding means keeping children and adults safe from abuse or neglect. Local authority social services and the Police have the main responsibility for responding when anyone is concerned that they or someone else is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. However, they need someone to let them know (report) a safeguarding concern before they can help.
You may see or hear something that makes you worried that the person or family you are hosting are at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. Abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual and financial. This could be a worry about the way they treat their children or relatives or the way someone else is treating them.
You might also see or hear something that makes you worried that your children, relatives or someone else is at risk because of the behaviour of the person or family you are hosting.
The person or family you are hosting from Ukraine may also ask for your help in reporting a safeguarding concern.
Asking for help is the right thing to do. Whether you are worried about a child from Ukraine or adult, or about yourself, your family or someone in the community.
It is important to share these concerns as soon as you can. Your local authority will provide you with information about how to contact your local social services if you are worried that someone may be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. You can also find information on your local authority website by searching for the name of your local authority followed by ‘reporting a child at risk’ or ‘reporting an adult at risk’.
If you have concerns that a child or adult or from Ukraine has gone missing, you should contact 101 or visit your Police Force’s web page where there will be a link to report a missing person. You should then let your local authority know.
However, if you are worried that someone is at immediate risk of harm, then you should telephone the Police on 999.
If you, or anyone you know, has any concerns about potential abuses of the scheme, you should report them at the earliest opportunity to the local authority, or to the police if you are concerned that a crime has been committed or if there is a threat of a crime being committed.
Should there be any concerns for your guest’s welfare whilst in the hosting placement, the local authority will respond in line with existing statutory duties and make decisions on a case-by-case basis depending on what the safeguarding concern is.
As well as safeguarding your guest, it is important that you and your family feel comfortable and safe in your home. If you have any cause for concern or feel that you may be at risk from your guest, please report this immediately as outlined above via your local authority.
Modern slavery and exploitation
Modern slavery is an umbrella term that covers human trafficking, slavery, and forced labour. Modern slavery can affect people of all ages, gender and races and includes a range of different forms of exploitation.
There are 4 main types of modern slavery:
- labour exploitation
- criminal exploitation
- sexual exploitation
- domestic servitude
As your guests adapt to life in the UK, there is the possibility that they make be at risk of exploitation and modern slavery, by those seeking to profit from their exploitation.
Read modern slavery awareness and victim identification guidance.
There are many different signs of modern slavery. If you have concerns that someone may be being exploited, or may previously have been a victim, you can find information about how to get help.
Social media: some do’s and don’ts
Everyone uses the internet and social media to stay in touch and even more so when families are separated. This advice is to help you as a sponsor to protect the privacy and dignity of the person or people from Ukraine you are hosting. The good intentions of people can sometimes be taken advantage of by those less scrupulous. A rule of thumb would be to ask yourself if you would be happy to have images and information shared about you or your family/children on a public network, with or without consent. Remember that children are unable to give ‘informed consent’.
As a sponsor or host, there are a range of simple things you can do to help secure privacy:
Make sure that everyone in your home who is using social networks is aware of their security settings and how to change them.
Be aware that usernames, profile pictures and social media biographies are always public, even on private accounts.
Be very careful about friend requests from people you don’t know.
Ensure that the person or people you are hosting have downloaded the ‘panic button’ onto Facebook.
Publish photographs of the people you are hosting on public networks.
Publish any information about where the people you are hosting are living.
Publish any information about where the people you are hosting will be at a particular time.
Assume people are who they say they are.
If you are sponsoring people from Ukraine including a child or children, these resources for both adults and children are helpful: Children and young people (UK Safer Internet Centre) and Parents and Carers (UK Safer Internet Centre).
Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual abuse
Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) covers a range of abusive acts and violence disproportionately committed against women, which can include, domestic abuse (physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse and coercive control), sexual violence and rape, ‘honour-based’ abuse including female genital mutilation, forced marriage and ‘honour’ killings, as well as public sexual harassment.
Whilst the term VAWDASV acknowledges the vast majority of victims are female, the scope of domestic abuse, sexual violence and harassment can extend to all victims regardless of gender.
In Wales, the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 aims to improve the prevention of VAWDASV and the protection and support provided to victims and survivors.
Sponsors and hosts will need to be aware that Ukrainians coming to the UK may have experienced VAWDASV in their home country, as part of their journey to the UK or when they arrive in the UK.
Sponsors and hosts can familiarise themselves with information on recognising VAWDASV and the relevant support services by completing the open access Welsh Government eLearning module. This is available bilingually and should take approximately 45 minutes.
More information on VAWDASV is also available on Live Fear Free.
There are a number of support services available for those experiencing VAWDASV or for people who are concerned about others.
The Live Fear Free helpline
Our Live Fear Free helpline is a free, 24/7 service for all victims and survivors of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and those close to them, including family, friends and colleagues. Live Fear Free can be contacted in the following ways:
Call: 0808 80 10 800
Text: 0786 007 7333
Dyn Wales helpline, is an organisation supporting male victims of domestic abuse. 0808 801 0321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (support for male victims).
Welsh Women’s Aid is an organisation supporting Welsh women affected by domestic abuse.
BAWSO is a specialist organisation dedicated to supporting ethnic minority communities.
Meic is a free, confidential, anonymous, and bilingual helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales providing information, useful advice and support. Meic is open 8am - midnight, 7 days a week, by telephone, SMS text and instant messaging.
Telephone: 0808 80 23456
Support from your local authority
Your local authority is responsible for support like:
- registering children with local schools
- providing advice on family support services, such as help with childcare costs
- ensuring access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes
- working with local health boards to signpost advice and referral pathways to specialist public health services as appropriate, for example for vaccinations or TB screening. Advice on further support services such as initial stabilisation, counselling and mental health support, adult social care, and children’s services should be provided as needed
- supporting access to local Jobcentre Plus appointments for benefit assessments, including for emergency payments while any benefits are being arranged
- administering £200 interim support payments to new arrivals
- administering monthly payments to sponsors
- helping to find longer-term accommodation options
- providing advice and support on safeguarding issues
- providing casework advice as required
You should also try to help direct the person or family you are hosting to public services like schools and job centres. Additional guidance on how to access public services can be found on the Welsh Government sanctuary website which is available in Ukrainian and provides information on rights, services, education and culture in Wales.
Support from the voluntary sector
Your local authority is likely to have their own support for hosts, but should you require any additional or independent support. The Welsh Government have contracted Housing Justice Cymru to respond to your queries or offer support with signposting.
Read more about the homes for Ukraine: host support service.
The voluntary sector can provide a range of support for the person or family you are hosting, infoengine is the directory of third sector services in Wales provided by Third Sector Support Wales (CVCs and WCVA). It is a free platform that contains information about a wide variety of voluntary and community services that are able to provide help and support. Some of this support is delivered in partnership with the local authorities, health boards and other partners.
In addition, your local County Voluntary Council is a source of information and guidance about voluntary sector services that are available locally. You might also want to share these link with the person or family you are hosting.
Arrangements for responding where there are concerns people from Ukraine may be missing after their arrival in the UK
There will be cases when people from the Ukraine do not arrive at their intended destination. This advice sets out what to do in these circumstances. This includes action that may require the person(s) to be reported to the police as missing person(s).
The definition of a missing person is:
Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.
What to do if the people you are sponsoring do not arrive at your address as expected
In the event that the people from Ukraine that you are sponsoring are traveling to your address without you and they do not arrive as expected you should try and contact them to find out whether there is an explanation for their delay and when you can expect them to arrive.
You should make efforts to locate them in the way you might do if you were trying to make contact with a member of your family.
If you are unable to make contact with them you should phone the police on 101 and report them as missing. The police will need some information from you. They will need to know the last known location of the people you are reporting as missing and any information you have about their names, ages, gender and what they look like. You also have the option to report the person as missing online via your Police Force’s web page.
If you get any new information about the people from Ukraine or if they make contact with you and you have already reported them as missing to the police, you should contact the police again to update them as soon as possible.
If you receive any information that suggests anyone is at risk of immediate harm you must call the police on 999 straight away.
You should let your local authority know that you have reported someone as missing.
If your guest will be absent temporarily
We recognise that guests may need to be temporarily absent from their host accommodation for various reasons. Before your guests’ departure, we encourage you to discuss arrangements and the length of absence. Where possible, guests should confirm their arrangements for their date of return with you before they travel, or should update you as soon as they can.
Before your guests’ departure, you might also want to discuss how they leave their room or accommodation, for example, you may wish to ask them to leave their belongings tidily and in a way that allows you to still use the room if you need to. You may also wish to have each other’s contact details so that they can communicate and keep you updated about their intended return.
If your guests are away for more than 4 consecutive weeks in a single period, or it has been 4 consecutive weeks and they have not returned, you will need to notify your local authority and follow the guidance in the section below.
If your guest is away for less than 4 weeks, you do not need to notify your local authority. However, if your guest is absent on multiple occasions for fewer than 4 weeks, you should discuss the reasoning for this with your guest and engage with your local authority if you have any concerns.
If your guest is leaving permanently, you must notify your local authority that the hosting arrangement has ended. You should not wait until 4 weeks of absence has passed before notifying the local authority.
Failure to notify the local authority of a guest being away for more than 4 consecutive weeks or leaving permanently could result in the relevant local authority making further investigations to identify fraud and you may have to pay back money should it be determined that fraudulent claims have occurred.
Guests absent from sponsor accommodation for a continuous period exceeding 4 weeks
If you are sponsoring multiple guests, you must only notify your local authority of their absence if all guests are absent for more than 4 consecutive weeks, or it has been 4 consecutive weeks and they have not returned.
Once you have notified the local authority of a guest’s absence your ‘thank you’ payments will be paused. You should notify the local authority when your guests return and your ‘thank you’ payments will be reinstated. When your payments restart, they will follow the usual monthly in arrears ‘thank you’ payment cycle.
It is your responsibility to update your local authority of a guest(s)’ absence of over 4 weeks.
If your guest is in receipt of benefits from Department for Work and Pensions, your guest should notify them of any absences from the UK.
Preparing for guest absences of longer than 4 weeks
You and your guests should discuss arrangements in advance of their departure. Conversations could cover:
- whether or not the sponsorship relationship would continue if the guests wished to return after 4 weeks’ absence
- whether the guest has flexibility to change their travel dates
- where to store the guests’ belongings, and how to return them if the guest(s) will not return to live there
If you decide you do not want to continue offering your guest accommodation, you should contact your local authority as soon as possible. The local authority will end ‘thank you’ payments and get in touch with you to find out if you would be interested in a rematch and hosting a new guest.
You may also want to remind your guest that an absence of more than 4 consecutive weeks could affect their entitlement to any services they are currently receiving. It is therefore a good idea for your guest to contact other government departments that are providing these services before leaving for an extended period.
If your guest(s) do not return as expected and you are unable to make contact with them following a number of attempts, you should phone the police on 101 to report them as missing. In response to your report, the police will make a decision on action to take, on a case by case basis.
What happens if the sponsorship breaks down?
If for any reason you need to end the sponsorship arrangement early, sponsors should inform the Ukrainians they host and the local authority as soon as possible (and ideally with at least 2 months’ notice where possible).
If you would like to try and resolve any issues before a placement ends, your local authority can support you or make a referral to Housing Justice Cymru to access their mediation service.
Local authorities have homelessness support duties and can actively support the search for alternative accommodation for any Ukrainian expected to become homeless within 56 days.
What happens at the end of the sponsorship?
Sponsors and hosts are committed to hosting people from Ukraine for a minimum of 6 months, but you may choose to continue beyond the initial 6 months if you and the person or family you are hosting wish to continue the arrangement. We encourage hosts and guests to have open conversations about extending placements beyond 6 months. Where possible, we want to support longer placements particularly where guests are settled within an area, as there is significant pressure on the housing system at present.
If you do not want to (or cannot) continue the arrangement beyond six months, you should let the person or family you are hosting know in plenty of time so they can make other arrangements. Hosts should do this, at the very minimum, 2 months before the end of the 6 months.
We encourage you to talk to your guest about the options for their next steps, including:
- continuing sponsorship
- finding your guest a new host (rematching)
- renting private accommodation
- contacting your local authority for alternative accommodation
Whatever you decide to do at the 6-month point, tell your local authority 2 months before. It will make it easier for them to offer support if your guest is moving on or to continue make the thank you payments if you continue to host. You should continue to keep the local authority informed, especially if anything changes after this point. You can search for your local authority.
If you are able to continue sponsoring for longer than 6 months that is brilliant. We ask everyone who is hosting guests, particularly those coming up to their fourth month of sponsoring, to continue hosting their guests until they are ready to move on, where that is possible.
If you continue to host, you are eligible to receive thank you payments up to 2 years of your guest’s stay in the UK.
We are also keen to keep experienced hosts when placements end, and your local authority will ask you if you are willing to host another guest(s) either now or in the future. There is no pressure to agree to host again your contribution has already been extremely valued, but if you think you could help another guest(s), perhaps after you have had a short break, please let your local authority know.
Finding a new host (rematching)
If your guests are not ready to leave hosting and move into their own alternative accommodation, but you can no longer accommodate them, they may want to find a new host.
You could help your guests to find a new host, for example through:
- someone that you already know
- a recognised provider
- local faith groups
- community groups
- other organisations
Your local authority may also be able to help them find a new host.
Once your guests have found a new host, it is very important that they contact the local authority so they can make the necessary checks, and to approve the arrangement. You can search for the local authority. This should happen before they move in with a new host.
The new host will then be eligible for the thank you payment. The payments will be available up until the guest has been in the country for 2 years, to help support rematching. There can only be one payment per residential address and it will be administered through your local authority.
If your guest they wants to move to another area of the UK, they must tell their local authority before moving. Their current local authority will then contact the local authority in the new area they want to move to, so they can make any necessary checks and can confirm the new living arrangements are suitable. If they do not do this, the guest could be at risk and the new host will not be entitled to the ‘thank you’ payment.
If your current guests move out, you can host another guest and receive the monthly thank you payment.
You can find out more information if you sponsor a child living in the UK without a parent or legal guardian, as there is a separate process for rematching children.
Renting private accommodation
People from Ukraine have access to public funds and will be able to rent a property like anyone else. If they need to, they will be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit if they are over State Pension age.
Rent Smart Wales was established to ensure that Landlords are fit and proper persons and help protect tenants rights. Before renting a private property you should ensure that landlords are registered with Rent Smart, this can be done using the search tool on their website. Rent Smart Wales also has useful information and guides on renting property which is available on the Rent Smart Wales website.
How much rent can your guest afford to pay?
Most people can afford to spend about one third of their monthly money on rent. But this depends on what other things you have to pay for.
There is high demand for private rental accommodation and social housing. If your guest is ready to rent but facing challenges, you should contact the local authority to understand what options may be available. You may need to support your guest to consider living in other areas across Wales for example where they might be able to live in one area and easily commute to work in another area.
- The Homes for Ukraine website contains information about the scheme.
- The Welsh Government’s Sanctuary | Ukraine website contains supporting information and is available in Ukrainian.
- Your local authority will provide information about what support they are providing in your area. Guidance on how to support the person or family you are hosting has also been issued to your local authority. See: Homes for Ukraine: guidance for local authorities.
- A helpline has been launched for people arriving in Wales from Ukraine and for people who are acting as sponsors to provide advice and guidance. For callers in the UK, the number is: Freephone 0808 175 1508; for callers outside the UK, the number is: +44 (0)20 4542 5671. The helpline is available between 08:00hrs and 00:00hrs, 7 days a week.
Annex A: guidance on accommodation
All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for the person or family from Ukraine and that it is in a suitable condition. You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. Two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who did not previously know each other should not be given the same room.
Further to this we ask that accommodation:
- be kept clean and in a reasonable state
- have adequate kitchen and bathroom space
- have access to drinking water
- have a working smoke detector on each floor of the property and other fire safety precautions suitable for the building e.g. fire doors or escape routes as appropriate (further information on making a home safe from fire can be found on GOV.UK)
- have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove)
- have sufficient heating to keep the property at a comfortable temperature
- have safe gas appliances, fittings and flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year (see more information on HSE website)
- have safe and working electrics, which a qualified electrician can help with if you are unsure
- be almost entirely free of damp or mould
- have doors and windows at entry level that lock properly
- be easy and safe to move around in, without excessively steep staircases that may cause harm
Annex B: mental health support
Mental Health Hub - Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (nhs.wales)
Mental Health Support in Gwent during the COVID-19 pandemic - your questions answered
Hywel Dda UHB
Mental Health Services During COVID-19: Powys Teaching Health Board (nhs.wales)
Cardiff and Vale UHB
Swansea Bay UHB
Cwm Taf UHB
Mental Health Support in Wales During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Your Questions Answered
Annex C: support services for people seeking sanctuary
Webpage and contact information
CALL Mental Health Helpline
CALL Mental Health Helpline for Wales Confidential Listening and Support Service
Welsh Refugee Council (Wales)
Diverse Cymru (Wales)
The Sanctuary (Newport)
Displaced People in Action (Wales)
Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team Wales, Supporting BME people living in Wales.
British Red Cross (Wales)
Trinity Centre (Cardiff)
Community Care and Wellbeing Service (Cardiff)
Wales Nation of Sanctuary UK Helpline
A helpline has been launched for people arriving in Wales from Ukraine and for people who are acting as sponsors to provide advice and guidance. For callers in the UK, the number is: Freephone 0808 175 1508; for callers outside the UK, the number is: +44 (0)20 4542 5671.
The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Contact should also be made with the Ukrainian Consulate in the event of births, marriages and deaths. Contact details are below, or a guest may want to go straight to the website which also lists Consular services and tariffs: Головна | Посольство України у Сполученому Королівстві Великої Британії та Північної Ірландії (mfa.gov.ua) It is available in English and Ukrainian.
Ukrainian Embassy in London, United Kingdom
60 Holland Park
London W11 3SJ
Telephone: (+44) 20 7727 6312
Fax: (+44) 20 7792 1708
Consular services: email@example.com
Monday to Friday: 9am to 6pm
Head of mission: Mr Vadym Prystaiko, Ambassador