Northumberland County Council pledges support for Ukrainian refugees

Northumberland County Council has pledged to help where it can to support those fleeing their homes in the Ukraine.

Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 3:54 pm

The authority is ready and willing to assist families who come to Northumberland and is currently awaiting further information from the Government as to how the resettlement programme will work.

Over two million people have already fled Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis has prompted offers of accommodation and support from across the county.

Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “What is happening in Ukraine is both shocking and heart-breaking.

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Volunteers sorting donations from Northumberland residents which are being sent to Poland.

"My thoughts, like all of ours, are with the Ukranian people who have experienced sudden and incomprehensible trauma and upset in their lives and have been displaced by the conflict which has destroyed their homeland and their livelihoods.

“We are ready and willing to step forward and help in any way we can and are in discussions with the Government about the support we can provide, but we are currently awaiting further guidance.

“We are fortunate to live in a peaceful part of the world and like most councils across the country we are offering our assistance to support those who are living through this most horrific time.”

Should families arrive in Northumberland from the Ukraine, the council has an experienced Asylum Seeker & Refugee Team comprising eight resettlement officers, skilled in supporting the integration of refugees into the life in the UK and working with those who have experienced war and trauma.

In the meantime, the council, like many other groups in the county, has been organising and coordinating the collection of donations for the refugees and signposting people to charities such as the Red Cross and the Disasters and Emergency Committee.

Cllr Sanderson added: “I’d like to say an enormous thank you to the local community for all their donations of food, toiletries, blankets and warm clothing which are now being sorted and packed by a group of volunteers so we can quickly get the aid out to Poland and to those in need.

“The response, as you would expect from Northumberland residents, has been quite extraordinary.”

The Government is supporting two schemes to help Ukrainian refugees.

The UK Visa Support Scheme for Ukrainian Nationals (Family Scheme) allows British nationals and people settled in the UK to bring family members here. To date it has welcomed in excess of 1,000 people who are eligible to stay in the UK for three years.

The Local Sponsorship Scheme will allow sponsors, such as communities, private sponsors or local authorities, to bring those forced to flee Ukraine to the UK and the Home Office will grant visas.

Details shared to date show there will be no limit to the number of refugees welcomed via this scheme, and that those who arrive in the UK will be granted leave to stay for 12 months with the ability to work and access to public services.

It is believed those wishing to offer accommodation will be expected to do so for a minimum of six months and meet appropriate standards.

It is understood the Government would set up a database and hotline for offers of housing and matching may be done by refugee groups but on behalf of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities which will oversee the scheme.