Homes for Ukraine
The London Borough of Barnet has welcomed over 1,000 Ukrainian refugees since the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched exactly one year ago on 14 March 2022.
Around 710 Barnet households have opened their doors to those fleeing the war in Ukraine in what is one of the fastest and largest visa programmes in UK history, and over 1,000 households in the borough have registered an interest in becoming sponsors.
Barnet Council Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings, said: “The response from Barnet residents since the invasion in Ukraine began has been incredible. We are a borough that cares for people. I’ve found it heartening to see so many transforming the lives of those who have fled the war in Ukraine, by offering a place in their own homes and support in their community.
“Local councils play an important part in the resettlement of innocent people who have been forced to flee their countries. We want Ukrainians arriving in Barnet to feel safe, to feel welcomed and to feel supported.”
Since the scheme launched, the council has successfully employed two Welfare Officers who are Ukrainian nationals living in the UK under the scheme. They have created a one-stop shop to connect Ukrainians arriving in Barnet with other community groups, translation services, housing, health and welfare support, and initial needs such as SIM cards, bank accounts and financial benefits.
The council’s partnership with BOOST, the employment and benefit advice service in Barnet, has allowed 13 refugees to successfully transfer their qualifications from Ukraine to a recognised qualification in the UK. BOOST has also helped another 13 people in finding employment in various areas, supported three people into their own business and four people into volunteering work.
The council has also been working with Barnet and Southgate college to offer English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes for Ukrainians arriving in Barnet, as well as hosting specialised information and support events.
To date, over 116,000 Ukrainians have arrived safely in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Earlier this year, Barnet councillors unanimously passed a motion to work towards becoming an accredited Borough of Sanctuary. Borough of Sanctuary status is awarded by City of Sanctuary UK to organisations and areas, that go above and beyond to welcome those seeking a safe place to live.
The council is now part of the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network, and will continue to work with partners, community groups and residents to develop a vision for welcoming and supporting those seeking sanctuary in Barnet.