Help and support for refugees from Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has caused millions of people to be displaced. Alongside responses from many other countries, the Government has set up the Homes for Ukraine scheme to support arrivals in the UK.

There has been a generous response to this scheme from residents in Kensington and Chelsea, with significant numbers of people volunteering to host individuals or a family into their home.

We have a particular role as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme which includes:

  • supporting residents to sign up to the scheme as sponsors
  • carrying out checks on accommodation being provided
  • providing welfare checks for families and individuals arriving from Ukraine
  • supporting access to education for children and young people
  • wider signposting to support services where this is required.

We do not process or make decisions in relation to visas, this is a role performed by central Government. You can find out more about the visa process on Gov.uk.

Homes for Ukraine

Information for sponsors

As the war in Ukraine continues, residents in Kensington and Chelsea are offering vital support to people fleeing the country by welcoming them into their homes.

To meet the requirements to be approved as a sponsor, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be a British citizen in the UK or have at least 6 months permission to be in the UK (from the date of the beneficiary’s visa application)
  • Provide a valid ID for example, UK Passport, Biometric Residence Permit
  • Confirm you can provide accommodation for a period of at least 6 months in the UK. You must be certain that you are in a secure position to offer a stable home to someone who needs it.

Sponsors will be supported by the council’s Ukraine response team and have the option to receive monthly payments of £350 for up to 12 months as long as guests are provided with accommodation of a suitable standard.

How to become a sponsor

If you would like to support those fleeing war by offering your home, you can do so by submitting an application online. This will lead to our dedicated Ukraine response team registering your contact with Central Government and enabling initial checks to be carried out on you by the council as a potential sponsor.

Once we have completed these checks, a member of the council’s response team will contact you to arrange for you to be matched to a Ukrainian family looking for a home. This may not happen straight away, but the team will keep you updated.

Alternatively, if you have a family member fleeing Ukraine you need to apply for the Ukraine Family Scheme visa instead via the Gov.uk website.

Apply to become a sponsor

Frequently asked questions

Will signing up as a sponsor affect my welfare payments?

For sponsors who receive welfare payments, the government is ensuring ‘thank you’ payments do not affect your benefit entitlement. ‘Thank you’ payments will not affect any council tax discounts for single occupancy as well as bedroom tax. These will remain tax free.

What will happen to my empty homes premium if I host Ukrainian refugees in a separate property?

If you host people in a separate property which has an empty homes premium, you won’t have to pay the premium while they’re there and the council tax should be reduced.

Read our Homes for Ukraine privacy policy.

Local support and services

We are coordinating a range of support for new arrivals from Ukraine and their sponsors where it is needed. With our trusted partner Family Lives, we will be aiming to make contact with and visit all sponsors when we are notified through the Homes for Ukraine scheme that local new arrivals from Ukraine have visas and will be hosted at addresses in the borough.

If you know when the Ukrainian family will be arriving at your home, please let us know by emailing ukraine@rbkc.gov.uk We will then make contact with you to organise an initial visit to complete the checks we are expected to make as outlined in the Government guidance. This will include:

  • Viewing the accommodation where the refugees will be living to check it is suitable and safe.
  • A check on the welfare of the newly arrived family or individual
  • Arranging for the completion of a DBS (Data and Barring Service) check for all adults in the sponsor household. Sponsors will be required to complete an Enhanced DBS check if they have agreed for children or a vulnerable adult to stay with them
  • Where we have confirmed that accommodation being provided is suitable, we will also gather financial details of the sponsor household so we can process the “thank you” payments being made available through the Homes for Ukraine scheme
  • There may be a need for us to make further contact with sponsor households to confirm additional information we have been tasked to gather.

You can read the government expectations of sponsors.

An additional purpose for our visit is to consider any problems that the newly arrived families or individuals may be experiencing and to provide information or support with getting access to any additional services that may help. While we aim to arrange visits and carry out checks in good time, the need to do this should not delay access by families and individuals to accommodation.

Additional support and information for families and individuals from Ukraine

The UK Government has produced a Welcome Guide for Ukrainians which is available in Ukrainian and Russian:

Refugees arriving at Victoria coach station and Victoria train station

We are working with managers of both stations to provide information and assistance to help Ukrainian refugees to get to their planned destinations should they arrive through either of these key transport hubs.

We are working closely with Support Ukraine Coordination Hub, who have longstanding links with London’s Ukrainian community and part of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB). They are offering support to all refugees including law surgeries and activities for children. The Hub also provides a supplementary Saturday school for Ukrainian children, and we are working with teachers in the school to ensure that all refugee children can access this.
The Support Ukraine Coordination Hub can be contacted on 020 3034 2060.

Family Hubs (Children Centres)

Our Family Hubs and Children’s Centres are a one-stop shop for families with young children. All services are free to all families with a child aged under five who live in the borough and provide information, advice, guidance and support. There are dedicated teams in the North and South of the borough who can help to signpost families to local support.

Education

Where newly arrived families have children, we are keen to assist with getting access to school placements where this is required.  Applications for school places are referred to as ‘in-year’ and can be made through the Council’s Admissions team. The team can advise on school place availability and how to apply.

If you want to speak to the team directly,

Families with children who are under 5

Support is available for families who need a place in early years provision or nurseries for children aged 2, 3 or 4 years of age. Parents and carers can contact the funding team who will be able to help find a suitable placement in one of our early years settings.

To speak to the team:

Adult learning and English for speakers of other languages

Adult Learning Services in Kensington and Chelsea offer a wide range of learning opportunities and courses, including English as a Second Language (ESOL). View our page on adult learning for more information on the courses and details on how to enrol.

Health

All families and individuals arriving in the UK should register with an NHS doctor (known as a GP) for everyday health issues. NHS services including hospitals are free. Newly arrived families may be asked to show their passports or Biometric Residence Permit but are not expected to pay the immigration health surcharge.

Dentists and Dental care

You are entitled to NHS dental care to help keep your mouth, teeth and gums free of pain. If your toothache is painful you should call NHS 111 for Urgent Dental Care Services. You can search for local dentists and ask to register for an appointment. Search for a dentist at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist

COVID-19 Vaccination and testing

The COVID-19 vaccination is free to everyone in the UK. You do not need an NHS number or GP registration to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and should not be denied vaccination on this basis. You can also find more information about accessing COVID-19 vaccinations on the NHS site.

Libraries and Internet access

Kensington and Chelsea has library facilities at different locations across the borough. Newly arrived families and individuals will be able to register to use the services available including access to the internet.

You can register to use the libraries online.

Libraries also offer access to:

  • Computers and support to use them 
  • Employment, skills and business support 
  • Reliable health information and wellbeing support 
  • After school support and activities

Financial Support and Employment

Information about claiming financial support and benefits can be found on the benefits section of our website or by telephoning 020 7361 3006

Kensington and Chelsea Housing and Employment Service works with residents of all ages to help them find to a job, offer carer advice and guidance, and signpost to appropriate training and skills development. You can find more information on the jobs and employment section of the website.

You can also find extensive support regarding benefits and job opportunities at local Job Centres. Find a Job Centre near you.

Housing

For support related to housing, please find more information on the housing section of the website.

Or contact:  

Things to do

There are lots of organisations who run activities and sports sessions for children and young people that are free for refugees and asylum seekers receiving government support. View the online calendar.

Kensington and Chelsea is also home to many leisure centres, which are open to all. Facilities include gyms, swimming pools, and a range of classes and activities. For more information and to find the closest centre, please visit our sports and leisure page.

Safeguarding concerns

Most Children arriving in the UK from Ukraine are expected to be in the care of a parent or family member. If children are identified who are not in the care of a parent or appropriate adult, please do make a referral to the Local Authority (contact details below).  

Consideration also needs to be given to the needs of vulnerable adults who may need additional support. In these circumstances please also contact the Local Authority. 

If you are worried that someone is in immediate danger, please call 999.

Key contacts for the Local Authority:

  • During office hours (weekdays 9am to 5pm) Assessment and Access Team: 020 7361 3013
  • Out of hours (Daily 5pm to 9am, plus 24 hours Bank Holiday and Weekends) Emergency Duty Team: 020 7373 2227
Future plans

We will continue to work with Government officials and London Councils to better understand the process for supporting Ukrainian families or individual where placements with friends, families or sponsors need to end before the six month period specified in the registration process.

We will continuously review and develop our response as circumstances change.
For further enquiries, please email ukraine@rbkc.gov.uk.

Last updated: 4 November 2022