Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, approximately 4.2 million people have fled Ukraine (30 March), and more than 6 million people are displaced within Ukraine, at this rate the situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.
The UK Government has announced schemes that could enable up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees to seek safety in the UK. These include Ukrainian Family Visa, for immediate family members of those living in the UK, and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine, for which 150,000 individuals have signed up as potential hosts.
The latest visa data (31 March) shows that there have been 65,000 visa applications made and in total 29,200 visas have been issued.
Both schemes grant visas for an initial period of 3 years with the right to work and access public services. However, we are dealing with an ever-changing situation and there is still much unknown about how many Ukrainians will come to the UK, when they will arrive, and what their immediate support needs will be.
If you have signed up to host a Ukrainian refugee or family, then please refer to organisations with expertise in this area to ensure that you’re well supported to support someone living in your home. Reset is the official matching organisation for the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme and they have a website here. Other organisations with best practice guides for hosts and communities include Naccom and VITA.
What is Breaking Barriers doing?
Last Summer, we all watched on in horror as the Taliban took hold of Afghanistan and Afghan civilians at risk of violence and persecution were airlifted to safety in the UK. Many of these families and individuals are still living in temporary accommodation and we’re only now, eight months later, supporting our first Afghan clients with employment support.
In addition, the latest asylum stats released by the Home Office show there are still over 100,000 individuals awaiting an initial decision on their application, and given that over 70% of these are granted, we’re anticipating a huge and unprecedented growing demand for our services.
At Breaking Barriers our ongoing learning from these tragic humanitarian crises is that the solutions to better support refugees need to be built for the long-term. We exist to support refugees to rebuild their lives in the UK, and we will use our expertise to:
- Support Ukrainian refugees – our employment and education services support those with refugee status and people who identify as being of a refugee background, therefore Ukrainian refugees will be eligible for our support.
- Work together with sector– we continue to work with the refugee sector, government departments and businesses to understand the employment needs and opportunities for Ukrainian refugees, and the specific support they may need.
- Support the hiring of refugees – We continue to partner with businesses on recruitment pathways, work placements and ensuring our refugee clients can access job opportunities and the support they need to integrate and rebuild their lives through employment.
What you can do
We know that businesses and individuals want to support incoming refugee populations, but the reality is that there are refugees and people of refugee background here in the UK right now who need our support, here’s some ways you can support the refugee community:
- Donate – your donations, big and small, mean we can support and expand our employment and education programmes so that more refugees and people of refugee background can access them. This will enable us to support the incoming refugee community, and address the growing needs and challenges refugees already in the UK face.
- Hire refugees – we’re calling on 100 businesses to commit to hire and support refugees in the UK over the next 12 months. Your employer or business can get behind refugees to unlock refugee potential, email us for more information.
- Volunteer – we have a range of group-based and individual opportunities that are meaningful and impactful. We are actively seeking volunteers with languages, as well as those who can offer their skills and expertise in specific sectors.