Providing longer term help for visitors from Ukraine

A PROJECT in Westbury on Trym to host families fleeing the war in Ukraine has welcomed extra funding for longer term housing.

Organisers have also asked local landlords to consider offering a reduced rent to a Ukrainian family.

Fifty host families in the Westbury area have helped more than 100 refugees since the Westbury hub, run by volunteers from three churches: Holy Trinity, Westbury Baptist and Westbury Methodist, started 18 months ago.

Bristol City Council has announced that £1 million of support has been promised by the Government to help Homes for Ukraine schemes in the city.

One of the Westbury Hub founders, Bernice Gollop, said the money will not come directly to the hub, but will help BCC find longer term homes.

She said:” The money is important to enable the council to have the Resettlement Team. And more landlords are needed for the people still living with hosts who will need to move on at some stage.”

Bernice said the hub continues to see new arrivals, but not on the same scale as last summer.  

“What we provide is a safe space where they can meet other Ukrainians to form friendships that replace the support network they have left behind.”

The Homes for Ukraine scheme launched in March last year. An approved sponsor can enable a visa for a Ukrainian to enter Britain, host them in their own home, and get paid by the council to cover the extra costs for household bills.

Labour City Councillor Tom Renhard, cabinet member for housing, said: “Bristol City Council’s excellent refugee resettlement team has been coordinating the Homes for Ukraine scheme in Bristol. They’ve done a really amazing job preventing homelessness by supporting clients and hosts, and finding alternative accommodation in the private rental sector.

According to a cabinet report, out of the 816 arrivals, 296 people are still living with hosts; 268 have moved into rented accommodation in Bristol; 28 have made their own arrangements; 10 are staying in temporary accommodation; 79 have moved elsewhere in the country; and 133 have left the country, with some going back to Ukraine.

Volunteers in Bristol are continuing to send donations to Ukraine, with vans leaving regularly full of supplies.

Labour Cllr Brenda Massey said: “Our local group, From Bristol with Love for Ukraine, continues to send van loads of provisions including food and medical equipment to Ukraine.”

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees added: “It has been amazing watching the city step up on so many occasions to support people who are among the most negatively impacted by events in the world at the moment.”

The Westbury on Trym Hub offers English lessons and helps some of the Ukrainians to move on to college courses and work.

Bernice Gollop said: “What is still needed is accommodation. Many Ukrainians have been living with their hosts for over a year and would like to live independently.  

“One family: a mother, father, two teenage daughters and a pre-school son were living with three wonderful hosts in three separate properties.  They now live together thanks to an understanding landlord who has accepted that they cannot afford a full rent.

“Perhaps there are some more landlords who could accept a reduced rent to help a family?”

• If you would like to help, you can email and speak to a volunteer about hosting or renting out a room or property.