War has uprooted several Ukrainians in the UK, who are now facing homelessness
Many newly arrived refugees from Ukraine have become homeless in the UK after their relationships with British hosts deteriorated, leaving them bewildered and isolated — and having to deal with an overwhelming amount of purple tape. CNN spoke to half a dozen of these migrants.
The extent of the problem is still unknown. There are two programs in the UK that allow Ukrainians to enter the country: the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainians to be hosted by relatives in the UK; and the Homes for Ukraine, which allows Ukrainians to find a local “sponsor” through friends, charities, or even social media and jointly apply for a visa. With this, around 77,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK. According to the British government, “the overwhelming majority are settling in successfully.”
New preliminary data from the UK government, on the other hand, shows that between February 24 and June 3, 660 Ukrainian households sought local authority assistance for homelessness. There is more to the story than just those data. Ukrainian communities in London’s social media groups are inundated with messages from people who have fallen out with their UK hosts.
Some local administrations have yet to give any data, and CNN has spoken to a number of refugees who have been left homeless in these places. The stories of two women who are not related reveal huge inconsistencies in the programs designed to aid them.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 shook the world. On March 14, the government of the United Kingdom announced the Homes for Ukraine program in response to a public uproar. After a single day, 100,000 people had offered to host. It was the beginning of one of the largest refugee aid programs in British history.
At the time, UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove noted that the scheme “offers a lifeline to people who have been forced to leave.”
Sara Nathan, a co-founder of the organization, Refugees at Home, which has been pairing refugees with hosts for the past seven years, thinks the notion of a hosting system is good. “I think our first reaction was, well, thank goodness; it’s been appreciated that hosting people is a way forward,” adding, “It’s a good way of integrating new arrivals, traumatized new arrivals.”
Nathan, though, noted that rematching is a major issue when placements fall apart. UK authorities said councils have access to a system that may be used only when a hosting relationship is deemed dangerous or untrustworthy.
Numerous charities told CNN that this facility came late and is inconvenient to use. More than half of Ukraine’s homeless households are currently living in temporary housing, according to government data.