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Refugee Week: East Sussex extends a warm welcome

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused devastation. Many Ukrainians have fled with few possessions, having to leave behind family and friends not knowing when they will be able to return.

People across East Sussex have responded to the crisis with donations, support or by offering to open their homes to refugees. Nearly 1,000 Ukrainian guests have settled in the county since the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme in March.

Thank you

This week as we mark Refugee Week (June 20 – 26), we would like to thank everyone in East Sussex who has responded to the challenge to welcome and support those fleeing the conflict.

This year’s theme is ‘Healing’, celebrating care, community and new beginnings – our county has a proud record of helping people forced to flee wars and the community effort to help settle refugees in East Sussex has been tremendous.

There are now over 600 host families in East Sussex, and their kindness and generosity is helping people find a safe, welcoming refuge when they need it most.

How you can help

Homes for Ukraine scheme

If you can offer a home or spare room for at least six months to people fleeing Ukraine, you can register to become a ‘sponsor’ through the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Once registered, the process of matching refugees to sponsors is undertaken by individuals themselves. There are several ways you can help support and sponsor a Ukrainian household if you do not already know anyone in need. A number of charities and non-government organisations are working to offer services to match potential sponsors and Ukrainian households seeking to come to the UK.

As one host wrote: “Yes, it is initially a little ‘strange’ having people you don’t really know living in your house, but it very quickly becomes ‘normal’ and very soon after they become ‘family’ and you will quickly adapt to a new routine.”

Hosting may not be possible for everyone and there are many other ways people can help.

Community support

A number of community hubs and support groups have been set up by individuals and volunteer groups across the county to help establish support networks in local communities.

Many of these can be found on Facebook and there are groups in towns and villages county wide including in Battle, Crowborough, Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes, Rotherfield and Seaford.

£490,000 is being distributed by the council to Voluntary Action groups (VAs) through the new Homes for Ukraine (HfU) Community Support Grant Fund to help support the work of these local networks and community hubs.

The fund will enable VAs to make grants of up to £5,000 towards activities that support guests to access transport and services and benefit from social interaction and wellbeing activities.

Residents in Hastings, Rother or Wealden are invited to join the Refugee Buddy Project and support a newly arrived person seeking refuge.

Donate

Cash donations are the fastest way to help: Red Cross – Why cash donations are better than goods.

These national organisations will welcome donations:

Disasters Emergency Committee (dec.org.uk)

British Red Cross

Unicef

International Rescue Committee

Welcome guides

We have produced a welcome pack for those staying with a family in the county: Welcome to East Sussex: Information for our Ukrainian guests

A welcome guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK has also been published by the Government: Welcome: a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK – GOV.UK

More information

You can find more information on how East Sussex is supporting Ukrainians fleeing the conflict and what you can do to help on the county council’s website.

Thank you again – together we can ensure our county offers both practical help and a warm welcome to Ukrainians when they need them most.

Saffron Phillips

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Saffron Phillips

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