Shropshire Star

Nearly 300 Ukrainians have taken refuge in Telford & Wrekin since war began

Nearly 300 Ukrainian families have fled to Telford & Wrekin over the last 19 months.

Southwater One lit up in blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine. Photo: Telford & Wrekin Council

The council’s Homes for Ukraine scheme first started welcoming people fleeing the war in Ukraine and pairing them with families in the borough in April last year.

The scheme allows people fleeing Ukraine to be paired with a household in the UK to stay with them in their home.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that since the government scheme began 291 Ukrainians have arrived in the borough.

Councillor Kelly Middleton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for healthy, safer and stronger communities and partnerships, has praised the generous sponsors who have helped people fleeing Ukraine.

She said: “In response to the Homes for Ukraine scheme, residents across our borough opened their homes and their hearts and showed a spirit of love and generosity that I am truly proud of, to support evacuees from Ukraine.

“As a council we moved quickly to support both sponsors and arrivals, offering a range of assistance including help with setting up banking, accessing education and applying for benefits entitlements.

“This outcome would not have been possible without the generous sponsors in our borough who opened up their homes to people in real need and showed that not just as a council, but as a borough, we stand with the people of Ukraine.”

A study from the British Red Cross revealed that around 6,220 Ukrainian families are expected to have applied for homelessness support by the end of this financial year.

The Red Cross state that breakdown of relationships with host families, language barriers and difficulty navigating the housing market.

This has resulted in those fleeing from Ukraine sofa surfing, living in tents, staying in hostels or even sleeping on the streets.

In Telford & Wrekin figures show that two Ukrainians are registered as homeless in the borough and none are currently staying in hotel accommodation.

Olivia Field, British Red Cross head of policy and advocacy, has urged the government to increase support available for host families.

She said: “This winter we expect thousands of men, women and children from Ukraine to become homeless here in the UK. British Red Cross teams are increasingly seeing how difficult it is for Ukrainians to get the help and support they need to find long-term housing.

"They are often unable to meet upfront rental costs and can be excluded from local authority schemes that help prevent homelessness. We also know that many host families, who generously opened their homes, are now struggling to continue to do so due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“We want government to increase the support available to host families by extending the ‘thank you’ payments for the third year of sponsorship to Homes for Ukraine hosts and make this support available to hosts on the Family Scheme too.

"Government also needs to tackle barriers that are preventing Ukrainian families from being able to rent homes, so people can live in dignity and keep a roof over their heads this winter.”