With so much happening in the world, it’s easy to understand how the conflict in Ukraine may have strayed from people’s thoughts.

As the conflict continues it’s important to remember that Ukrainians still need our help and support. In the two years since the full-scale invasion began, many Ukrainians have moved to our county. Lots already have jobs and their children have schools but need a little more time and help before they are ready to live by themselves. That’s where hosts play such an important role.

Need for hosts

This month, the Homes for Ukraine scheme marks its 2nd anniversary. Since March 2022, more than 800 host families have welcomed more than 1,800 guests to East Sussex. Today, 311 host families support 594 guests in hosted accommodation and offer shelter to people seeking refuge through the scheme.

However, those numbers tell only a small part of the story of what hosts do. They often become an integral part of their guest’s lives – helping them integrate into our community and guiding them as they find jobs and move into their own homes.

To mark the Anniversary, we’re calling for more residents throughout East Sussex to become a host. They will not only need space in their homes but also the ability to support their guests as they rebuild their lives.

A safe home is often the final piece of the jigsaw guests need to build a stable life in our wonderful county.

Being a host

There will be challenges when you invite a stranger into your home such as language and cultural differences. But with patience and lots of communication – Google translate, and hand signals can be helpful at first – the bond between hosts and guests can grow strong. So strong in fact that people on the scheme now see the strangers they welcomed into their homes as family members.

Debbie Moore had a spare room and wanted to help, but it wasn’t until the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme that she understood how to help. She and her guest Nataliia have formed a strong bond. ‘We get on tremendously well, it’s like having another member of the family really – well in fact she’s a bit like the daughter I never had,’ says Debbie.

Being a host can be hugely fulfilling for other reasons. For some like Mayfield resident Kathryn Pogson, who was initially unsure about opening her home, it felt like the right thing to do. “If the situation were different and my grown-up children needed refuge, I’d be really sad if nobody could offer help,” she says.

How to get involved

There’s more information on East Sussex County Council’s Homes for Ukraine webpage .

If you can offer a home to Ukrainian guests and support them to build a secure independent life, you can email ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk or call the Homes for Ukraine team on 01273 337010, 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday for an informal chat.

Remember, you won’t be alone when you become a host. There’s lots of support available to you, from help with money to English lessons for your guest. There’s also advice on how to help your guest find work or move into their own home when the time comes.