November 8, 2022 8.00 pm This story is over 17 months old

Ukrainians refugees in the UK seek independence after warm welcome by hosts

Over 1,300 refugees in Lincolnshire

Refugees who came to Lincolnshire on the Homes for Ukraine scheme have become independent, getting jobs, moving to new homes and enrolling their children at schools.

A briefing to Lincolnshire County Council’s Public Protection and Community Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday confirmed that more than 900 refugees had so far arrived and stayed in the county, with the authority expecting just over 1,300 in total.

However, councillors were also told that more than 65 of those had also secured independent accomodation, largely in the private rented sector.

Many had “quickly” taken up employment or education, said Samantha Neal, Assistant Director, Prevention and Early Intervention.

“People are making those arrangements themselves, they are coming to those arrangements in the same way as any other member of the public would do, they’re talking to the landlord, they’re sorting out the bills, and they’re getting established,” she said.

Councils are providing support to those refugees who choose to to move into their own homes by helping put together housing plans, examining budgets and helping with short-term rent deposits or payments.

There was a spike in numbers in April and May, but new arrivals slowed down since.

“There’s been a huge amount of work that’s taken place over the last six months,” said Samantha.

Councillor Elizabeth Sneath said she was “blown away” by how well the scheme had been managed.

“The level and depth of what we put into this is amazing, I’m really proud of the staff and all the agencies who have worked on this,” she said.

Councillors were told around 80% of hosts were currently planning to carry on doing so.

Around 12% of host engagements had broken down within six months, but the officers confirmed no refugees had been made homeless because of this.

They said the reasons for breakdowns were complex, but some of the main themes included a lack of open and honest conversations around what each side expected from the arrangement.

“The arrangements that tend to remain more stable are the ones where there’s maybe been some what could be perceived as difficult conversations from the get go,” said Lauren Grosvenor, service manager at LCC.

Samantha added: “The pressure of having other people in the house – it can be absolutely joyful but it can be also really hard work having other people stay within the same four walls as you.”

Councillors were also told that some refugees had chosen to return back to Ukraine, but were reassured that they could come back to the UK as the Visa lasts for three years, though there was a lack of clarity about when the duty of local authorities and hosts will end.

LCC and partners have been maintaining contact with families who choose to return to check their options.

Councillor Andrew Key said there was “some consolation” in the short-term.

“With people making these difficult decisions I can’t imagine how awful it is for them to have to decide where to be,” he said.

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