The ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme has allowed many Ukrainian families to come to the United Kingdom as a place of safety and refuge and the Ilkley community have welcomed to date over seventy families and individuals to live in their homes and spare accommodation.
The ISSUE (Ilkley and Surrounds Support for Ukrainian Evacuees) community group links up all these families and individual, as well as co-ordinating group efforts and support and advice from central and local government and their associated services.
ISSUE chair, Caroline Hyde, said: "You may well have met some of our Ukrainian friends, many of whom are now working and studying in our local area. They are also enjoying many of the pleasures of living in Ilkley , including our beautiful countryside and fantastic local amenities.
"A recent highly successful Ukrainian evening was held at The Clarke Foley Centre, which involved singing, dancing and cooking as a thank you to the people that have offered homes and accommodation.
"The support and ingenuity from Ilkley has been overwhelming, including in particular our church communities, who run weekly drop-in sessions at All Saints and Christchurch. A host of volunteer language teachers are providing language support, which supplement the ESOL courses now being offered in the town by Craven College.
"At all times we have been met by a ‘can-do’ attitude, and it is humbling how much people want to help our Ukrainian friends. In addition local groups have offered practical and financial support, for which we are all very grateful.
The government funded ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme allows visas to be offered for up to 3 years where a UK resident ‘host’ household can be identified. The host household agree to offer a minimum of 6 months free accommodation. The government have agreed to pay £350 per month to each host household for up to 12 months. Ukrainians who arrive under the scheme are permitted to work within the UK.
Caroline adds: "Arriving in a strange country directly from a war-zone has often meant that it has taken a bit of time for people to adjust. We have found that within our Ilkley community, people are now actively engaged in employment, education and job-seeking and are becoming very well settled . English skills are improving every day. As some of our Ukrainian guests approach the end of their first 6 months in Yorkshire some are looking to rent accommodation, if finances allow, and others will need the support of another 6 months in a host household.
"If you had considered hosting Ukrainian refugees, but had found the whole visa application process overwhelming, you could offer to assist one of our families, couples or individuals, who having settled in our area, and are now looking for a host family for the next 6 months. You would have the advantage of being able to meet your potential guests in advance, and they will be people who have already settled well within our local community. You would be eligible for the £350 per month government ‘help’ payment for at least 6 months and you would have the support of our local host community and Ukrainian local networks. This would give a family or individuals the opportunity to strengthen their finances, as they seek better paid employment in preparation for being able to rent their own accommodation in the future.
"Many of our Ukrainian community are already working, children are settling into schools , and they are looking at how they can best find accommodation. If you have any space or would consider offering vacant accommodation for a short-term period, this may also be able to help support our Ukrainian refugees.
"You may be part of a local (or national ) business that is looking for employees. Our Ukrainian community have a fantastic mix of skills and experience. We are working with local business groups to help build a register of people’s CVs . If you have any vacancies and would like to discuss these, please do get in touch.
"As a community we have welcomed our Ukrainian friends and as a group we are trying to do all we can to assist people being able to settle, at least for the next months, so if you have any questions or would like to help in anyway with accommodation or job opportunities please do get in touch.
"We are a voluntary community group, who would also welcome help and assistance with organisation and co-ordination, so again, if you would like to help please do let us know."
ISSUE can be contacted by emailing or messaging the Chair, Caroline Hyde via email firstname.lastname@example.org or approaching any of the community groups involved, via the Facebook group or Horton Housing who support the Homes for Ukraine scheme in the Bradford Council area.