• Mon. May 20th, 2024

Multiple Ukrainian families have faced homelessness in Cherwell

Byoxfordnewspaper

Oct 14, 2022

New figures show multiple Ukrainian refugee households have faced homelessness in Cherwell, as numbers jump across the country.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March, refugees from the war have been invited to stay in the UK under the Ukrainian sponsorship and Family Schemes.

The former sets up refugees with hosts in the UK for an initial six months, who receive support from their local council and a stipend of £350.

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However, as the cost-of-living crisis starts to bite and the initial hosting period comes to an end, it is feared that many more refugees could become homeless nationally.

New figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) show across both schemes, two refugee households had been made homeless or put at risk of homelessness in Cherwell as of September 23.

Nationally, the number of refugee households with homelessness duties surged 22 per cent over the same period, from 1,565 to 1,915.

Of those, 1,335 household – 70 per cent – had dependent children.

The figures also show that across the country, homelessness has been avoided in 665 of these cases, up from 550 the month before.

Figures are suppressed for areas with fewer than five homeless refugee households, so households in Cherwell may have found accommodation after receiving a homelessness duty.

Hosts sign on for an initial six months, and while the government says it will continue to provide support for an additional six months, several charities have said they are worried people may choose not to, given the rising costs of food and fuel.

Stan Benes, a trustee for Opora, a charity which helps Ukrainians settling in the UK, said that government support has “too often fallen short”, and that charities and other organisations have been left to fill in the gaps.

He said the cost-of-living crisis was a “factor”, but that the lead reason for hosting arrangements breaking down was “the health of the relationship between guests and hosts”, adding that many hosts did not have sufficient guidance or support when signing up to the scheme.

Opora is also concerned there are many more homeless refugees than the figures suggest – almost 30 per cent of councils did not provide data for September.

The DLUHC said it has been in contact with councils that have repeatedly not submitted data on homelessness, and is currently looking into how it can increase response rates.

Separate DLUHC figures show 257 Ukrainian refugee households due in Cherwell – from 331 successful applications – had arrived in the UK by October 4 under the sponsorship scheme.

This was up from 238 arrivals on September 6, when 322 visas had been issued.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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