Help and support for Ukrainian refugees in the UK

As hosts and volunteers with first-hand experience of applying for and receiving guests, we found a number of common themes that were occurring for many of us, and decided that our experience and insights gained could prove useful for others. On this site, we have tried to capture and share some of that experience, and as a result, you will find some different information here from other support sites for refugees. Both hosts and guests may find the site relevant.

We understand that it’s overwhelming when you first find yourself in a strange country. In this website, we want to break down the steps for you and provide you with relevant information that will help you understand how things ‘work’ in the UK, how British people (who have lived here for many years) might go about doing things, and what organisations exist that can help you. This will enable you to empower yourself to understand how to make good decisions without losing out on what you are entitled to, avoid paying for things you didn’t need to because you weren’t confident or didn’t know what to do, and importantly, avoid falling for scams and frauds.

Whilst our site is primarily aimed at arrivals from Ukraine due to the immediacy and focus on this problem, there are aspects here that might be helpful to other refugees.

We are not attempting to replace or contradict any of the official guidance, rather we strive to provide practical information on what to do based on a collective experience of actually receiving guests. We subscribe to receive official Government updates regarding the Ukrainian visa schemes, and update our website accordingly. Our website pages can be translated automatically into Ukrainian, to make things simpler. We also provide examples of when the ‘standard’ processes don’t work so well for Ukrainian refugees and what might work better instead.

We also see the typical questions that get asked frequently on social media, and the content on the website tries to address these also.

There is also a Top Tips section which summarises some of the most useful tips from across the website.

I would like to come to the UK or sponsor someone to come

If you are looking to come to the UK, you can find out about the specific Ukraine visa schemes that have been created in response to the invasion. You can live, work, claim benefits, rent and study in the UK from day 1 under these schemes, and you don’t always need a sponsor either.

We also have information on how to find a sponsor, or someone to sponsor. In particular, if you have the right to remain in the UK via ‘settled’ status, you can sponsor friends and relatives yourself under ‘Homes for Ukraine’.

We have details on the visa application process itself, including organisations that can help you fill in the forms for free.

Pay special attention if you plan to study online with your Ukrainian university once you are here, as you will need to work to support yourself.

I’ve just arrived as a refugee in the UK

Welcome! Once you have made it to your destination in the UK, take some time to relax, before tackling the paperwork. We provide a handy checklist to follow (some of which you could even start before you arrive). There are many links to more detailed pages on our site from this page.

Empower yourself to understand the UK benefits system, and learn to use a ‘benefits calculator’. Remember that for people who are able to work, the system is designed to support you until you get a job, not a long term option.

Sign up for free English classes – there are face to face and online options for refugees.

I’m looking for a job in the UK

Understand basic information such as the minimum wage employers must pay you by law, taxes you will pay, and how pensions work. We also give details of ‘job boards’, which are websites advertising 1000s of searchable jobs. This is how most people here begin their job search.

There are many organisations that can support you to find work, especially if you are a refugee – we encourage you to use them!

If you’ve got young children, arranging childcare so that you can work is a priority; we provide some information here on your options. Help is available from the benefits system to pay for childcare.

We also provide details of how to register for self-assessment and get your UTR, for free.

Explore our section entitled ‘Work’ for more information.

I need to find somewhere to live

In our ‘Housing’ section, we provide details of housing options for Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

It can be difficult to find somewhere to rent; we explain the process here, and what checks will be done, so that you can plan properly and improve your chances when the time comes. Note that passing affordability (having sufficient actual income to pay for the rent) is much more critical than a long credit history.

We also cover problems you could have with your housing arrangements.

Other things you may find useful

If you are looking to source everyday essential items cheaply or for free, we provide some ideas on where to search and shop for these.

If you’ve brought a car over, or need to drive, we provide information on driving in the UK.

We provide details of free and discounted entry to gyms, and some places of interest.

And if you need to go back to Ukraine, either temporarily or permanently, here are some of the things you need to be aware of.