THURROCK Council needs more residents to come forward to help Ukrainian refugees.
The borough has welcomed 130 Ukrainians since the start of hostilities but with the country’s war with Russia showing no signs of ending, the council hopes more people with rooms to spare to step up to help.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched in March 2022 to allow the safe arrival of more than 100,000 guests in the UK.
The scheme allows Ukrainian nationals who were residents in Ukraine prior to January 1, 2022 and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor who can provide suitable accommodation.
Speaking at a housing overview and scrutiny meeting last week, Shane Hebb, Conservative councillor for Stanford-le-Hope West, said: “Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this. This time last year when I was watching fathers putting their little girls on buses, that had a profound effect on me, I’m not going to lie.
“It something I never thought I’d live to see. It’s something my nan would talk about, evacuations and stuff like that.”
Mr Hebb said the ultimate goal was to see those who had to flee from the Ukraine return home once hostilities have ceased.
Lyn Worral, Labour councillor for Grays Thurrock had a message of hosts and council officers. She said: “You’ve done an amazing job. We couldn’t be prepared for this so it’s been amazing to see our call to arms and how many families did step up and that the Government sent money which was good too.”
Ukrainian guests have permission to remain in the UK for 90 days, and can apply for a Biometric Residence Permit to stay for three years in the UK.
Thurrock has 116 sponsors matched to 244 Ukrainian guests of whom 130 have arrived and 74 have stayed to live in Thurrock.
The council has received £959,000 of Homes for Ukraine funding in 2022/23. 5.2 The Government has paid the council £10,500 per each Ukrainian guest that has arrived in Thurrock. It’s paid once to support Ukrainian guest and their sponsors.
Homes for Ukraine hosts receive £500 a month as thank you for ongoing support after Ukrainian’s first year of sponsorship. The council is set to launch a new marketing campaign to urge new hosts to come forward.