Refugee household faces homelessness after coming to Stratford-on-Avon

A Ukrainian refugee household has faced homelessness after arriving in Stratford-on-Avon, according to new figures.

The Ukrainian flag is flown above 10 Downing Street in London, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Wednesday March 9, 2022.
The Ukrainian flag is flown above 10 Downing Street in London, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Picture date: Wednesday March 9, 2022.

A Ukrainian refugee household has faced homelessness after arriving in Stratford-on-Avon, according to new figures.

Ukrainians fleeing the conflict with Russia can apply for a visa to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

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The Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals to stay with relatives already living in the UK, and the Sponsorship Scheme, also known as 'Homes for Ukraine' allows individuals to host refugees for a minimum of six months.

But the schemes have been beset with delays to processing visas – and some have warned of safeguarding issues and mismatches between hosts and refugees.

Home Office data shows one refugee household in Stratford-on-Avon was homeless or at risk of homelessness as of June 3 – although the data does not show whether they have since been matched with new hosts.

Shadow levelling up and housing secretary Lisa Nandy described the situation as “shameful”.

“The British people showed amazing generosity in stepping up in their thousands to provide the care and sanctuary that these people – many of them families with young children – needed and deserved in such awful circumstances.

“But the Government has failed miserably to play its part.

“Ministers were warned about the risk of refugees becoming homeless on the day they launched the sponsorship scheme, but they were more interested in grandstanding in television studios than doing their jobs to protect vulnerable people.”

Across England there were 660 Ukrainian households facing homelessness as of June 3, including 480 with children.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, a group which campaigns for those fleeing conflict, said there were worrying differences in the level of support provided by the two schemes.

“We're concerned that Ukrainians arriving on family visas are running into problems as not all relatives will have the space or the resources to support their family members – which is why there needs to be the same level of funding available to them and local councils as is provided under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”

The data also shows that as of June 14, more than 64,000 visas had been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme for English hosts, with almost 43,000 refugees arriving in the UK as of the day before.

In Stratford-on-Avon, 262 visas had been issued by this point, and 174 refugees due to stay with sponsors in the area had arrived in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “All arrivals have access to benefits and public services, as well as the right to work or study, from the day they arrive.

“The overwhelming majority of people are settling in well but in the minority of cases where family or sponsor relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head.

“Councils also have access to a rematching service to find a new sponsor in cases under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”