Skip to main content
Search

Ukraine Response - questions and answers

Last updated: 16 May 2022

This questions and answers page has been compiled based on questions the Council has received through the dedicated email address: refugeesupport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk or through its community webinar on the borough’s Ukraine response.

You may also wish to refer to FAQ page for the national Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Sponsoring a Ukrainian refugee

If you would like to become a sponsor but do not know a Ukrainian refugee who wants to come to the UK you can register an expression of interest with the Government.

The charity Reset Communities and Refugees has been officially appointed to help register and match refugees from Ukraine with sponsors across the UK.

The service will also include initial eligibility and safeguarding checks to ensure the wellbeing of those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine when they arrive in their new UK home.

This service launched the first phase of its programme on Friday, 1 April, and will scale up to meet demand. For more information visit the Reset UK website:

The Council is contacting all sponsors in the borough who have been officially matched with a named Ukrainian guest under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This is based on information shared with us by the Government.

Matched sponsors will receive a call and an email from us to offer support and advice and outline the next steps, which includes Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and a home visit to make sure the accommodation offered is suitable.

If you think you should have heard from us, email: refugeesupport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk and we can check our records.

We are waiting for detail on the organisational sponsorship scheme, which would enable social landlords to become a sponsor.

Sponsor accommodation needs to be guaranteed for at least six months, and the Council appreciates that this makes it difficult for private landlords to commit to financially. However if a private landlord wishes to sponsor a family to live in one of their properties, they can register as a sponsor on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

In the future there may be a need for private rented properties for Ukrainian refugees to move into if the arrangement with their sponsor comes to an end. If you are interested in potentially providing accommodation at that point, please let us know the details of your property. Email: refugeesupport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

The safety of refugees fleeing their home country under such traumatic circumstances is of the utmost importance.

Councils will carry out accommodation and safeguarding checks. We have set up a process and will try to do this before the arrival of the guest(s), but this will not be possible in all circumstances.

Our role is to confirm that the accommodation is suitable and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are carried out on all adults in the sponsor household. If there are children and/or vulnerable adults arriving, an enhanced DBS check with barred lists check will be required for all adults in the sponsor household.

We acknowledge that this may be a frustrating process but these checks are essential so that we do not compromise the safety of refugees seeking sanctuary in our borough.

A national welcome pack has been published by Government as a guide to Ukrainians arriving in the UK, which would be useful to familiarise yourself with as a sponsor before your guest’s arrival.

The Council is also preparing a local welcome pack and will make this available in due course.

All properties will be required to demonstrate that all their gas appliances are safe. To do this, we will ask for one of the following:

  • A record of service of all your gas appliances completed in the last 6 months. This will ensure that it covers the 6 month period of your guests’ stay. The service must be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • A Gas Safety Certificate (covering all gas appliances) completed within the last 6 months, again to ensure it covers the 6 month period of your guests’ stay. The certificate must be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you do not have one of these assurances, we allow 28 days for you to provide it to the Council.

We hope that one of our partners may be able to help you if you do not have the required checks and this page will be updated once we have more details.

The British Red Cross has information on help for refugees coming to the UK from Ukraine, including travel.

The Government website also includes information on how refugees can reach their sponsors, including details of free or discounted international travel.

We are asking all sponsors to submit a short DBS form. It is important that this form is submitted by every member of your household who is aged 16 and over who either lives at the property or stays there on a regular basis.

All members of your household aged 16 and over who either lives at your property or stays there at a regular basis will be subject to a DBS check.

There are two types of DBS checks that are being undertaken as part of the Homes for Ukraine guest arrivals – the Council pays for both.

Basic DBS - this applies where you are hosting a non-vulnerable adult guest aged 18 or over or where the accommodation you are providing is a HMO or is self-contained.

Enhanced DBS – this applies where you are hosting guests under 18 or will be providing care and support to a vulnerable adult guest.

Yes, you do need another DBS check as a sponsor in this scheme, but the costs are covered by the Council.

Yes, each individual needs to have an appointment face-to-face with staff at a Council building.

The DBS enhanced checks take approximately 20 minutes per person, as long as those having the check bring all the required paperwork - the DBS checker will call beforehand to advise on what you need to bring along.

We can offer evening and weekend appointments to help accommodate people who are working full time. We can also offer appointments via video link to begin the process, although we are still required to see physical copies of ID documentation as soon as possible.

We are trying to complete checks before guests arrive but accept that this will not always be possible due to the volume of checks we need to complete. It will not delay a guest’s arrival.

We are seeking clarification on this.

We would have to check that the qualifications are valid in the UK but there are many opportunities within the field, both in teaching and wider routes associated with education. You can get in touch with us in the first instance so we can develop a register of refugees who are qualified teachers. Email: refugeesupport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

A variety of job opportunities are also available on external websites like United for Ukraine, where you can search for jobs or where employers can post jobs.

We are clarifying arrangements for unaccompanied under-18 year olds.

There may be funding available from the government for children aged between two and four – we are waiting for an update from the Department for Education and will update this questions and answers in due course.

A parent or guardian will need to sign the application form but a sponsor can make contact with schools to see if places are available and to arrange visits for when guests arrive.

Details of who is eligible for free school transport are available at this link, as well as how to apply or appeal a decision.

Further Education colleges are available for post-16 year olds study and guests can apply to these.

Yes - adult guests will be able to access free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. More details will follow.

The Council’s libraries also offer support for speakers of other languages, including an English Conversation Group, books in other languages, Ukrainian eBooks and eAudiobooks, online language resources and translation resources.

The new patient needs to complete a GMS1 form – this can be obtained direct from the practice of choice or on the practice website.

We recommend approaching the GP practice as they may have a New Patient Information Pack containing lots of useful information.

You can make enquiries and pick up the relevant forms on behalf of the patient.

Once completed and passed to the practice of choice an NHS patient number will be generated.

Find a local GP Practice: www.nhs.uk/

They would need to be referred by a dentist so the priority is to call a local dentist, find out if they are taking on NHS patients and arrange an appointment.

If you cannot find a dentist accepting NHS patients, call NHS England's Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.

There is a local dental helpline where patients can be triaged and offered an appointment if necessary. Ring: 0161 476 9651.

Find a local dentist at: www.nhs.uk/

This is something we will look in to.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer this at present but are working with partners in the community and voluntary sector to help address the needs of refugees when they arrive. This could include offers of transport.

To apply online they will need:

  • bank, building society or credit union account details
  • an email address
  • access to a phone

They will also have to prove their identity, for example, with their passport. They will receive their first payment around four or five weeks after applying online if their application is successful. They can also ask for an advance if they need help sooner.

Anyone coming to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme or Homes for Ukraine scheme is entitled to claim Child Benefit immediately, rather than having to wait for the usual three-month qualifying period.

People who wish to claim should complete a CH2 Child Benefit claim form and submit this by post to the Child Benefit office. The address is included on the form.

They should provide an original birth certificate and the passport or travel document used to enter the UK. Where this documentation is not immediately available, people are advised to include a note in their claim and someone from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be in touch to discuss further.

Anyone wanting more information on Child Benefit can visit GOV.UK or call 0300 200 3100 (from inside the UK).

Applying for Universal Credit opens up opportunities for employment and training courses as individuals will be given appointments with Work Coaches from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who will work with them to plan a route to work.

The Council also has four Work Zones in the borough, in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford and Northwich, which offer one-to-one support and mentoring to help people with all aspects of searching for employment.

  • Work Zone
  • Chester Work Zone - contact Jo Talbot on: 07775717122
  • Ellesmere Port Work Zone - contact Lewis Belfield on: 07990532869
  • Northwich Work Zone - contact Steve Smith on: 07833236675
  • Winsford Work Zone - contact Steve Smith on: 07766205389

Employment support for adults can also be accessed by emailing: Journey First. To qualify, adults need to be on a DWP benefit then they will be allocated an employment support adviser who works in the Work Zone.

Sponsors can help by encouraging their guests to engage with these services.

They do not at present, however work coaches do access the services of an interpreter to help translate at meetings or in a three-way telephone call.

Unfortunately, if a guest does not have a reasonably high level of English already it may not be possible to move straight into employment, even if they are very well qualified.

Guests with a low level of English should register for Universal Credit with the job centre and then make contact with Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race and Equality Centre (CHAWREC) for an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) assessment.

When their English is at a good enough level CHAWREC will signpost the guest to their local Workzone for employment support.

This is something we are still trying to clarify at a national level. As a starting point we are aware of the following:

  • Certificate of Complete General Secondary Education – equivalent to UK GCSE
  • Junior Specialist Diploma - equivalent to UK BTEC Level 4/HNC
  • Bachelor Degree – equivalent to UK Bachelor (Honours Degree) as long as it was completed after 2007
  • Specialist Diploma – equivalent to UK Bachelor (Honours Degree) qualification has been phased out, last cohort graduated in 2021

If a guest is funding their own place at university without any UK government help then they can claim Universal Credit.

If they also wish to work part-time then the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) would look at their earnings and reduce the amount of Universal Credit payment accordingly if necessary.

If a guest has more than £16,000 in a bank account that they can access then they are not eligible for Universal Credit.

If a guest has between £6,000 and £16,000 in a bank account that they can access then the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will assess if and how this will impact on their Universal Credit claim.

If a guest has less than £6,000 in a bank account that they can access then the DWP will need to see this but it will not affect a Universal Credit claim.

Universal Credit is for people aged 18 or over and under State Pension age.

The start date of a claim is the day it is made, but you can request it is backdated up to a month.

Universal Credit does not cover council tax, but the Council runs a number of schemes to help people who are struggling to pay their council tax bill.

The Refugee Council provides a number of guides to help refugees, including information on opening bank accounts in the UK. This features information about what documents you need to prove your identity and address.

National Insurance numbers do not come through immediately and, at times, there is a delay of a few weeks depending on volumes at the time of making the request.

More information on how to apply for a National Insurance number is available on the government website.

Latest guidance also states that guests from Ukraine can look and apply for employment without a National Insurance number. Anyone who has entered the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme can prove they have the right to work by showing their Biometric Residence Permit or their visa in their passport.

No, under current national guidelines guests will not need a COVID-19 test on arrival in the UK.

There are different mental health services to support you in Cheshire West and Chester.

Adults and older people with mild or moderate-to-severe symptoms of anxiety or depression can access talking therapies through Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. Visit The NHS website to find a local service.

Anyone who is feeling anxious or stressed can access support through a text message conversation. Text ‘BLUE’ to 85258 to reach a trained volunteer who can offer free and confidential support by text message 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People struggling with emotional distress who consider themselves in a self-defined crises can visit Café 71, a crisis café in Chester. The café, open from 10am to midnight, is a welcoming environment for people to connect with others who are experiencing similar problems. Ring 01244 393139 or visit 71-77 Anne Street, Chester, CH1 3HT.

Anyone whose mental health gets worse and who feels unable to cope needs to access support quickly. They can ring the urgent mental health crisis line on: 0800 145 6485, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Council will carry out an initial welfare visit once your guest arrives with you to gain a brief overview of how things are. This will be followed up with a more thorough assessment of health and wellbeing issues so that the most appropriate support can be provided.

Schools across the borough also have staff who are trained to recognise and support children who are struggling with their mental health.

This depends on their car insurance policy. There is also a checker on the government website.

The Council is collating a database of contact details for guests so that we can communicate with them directly to offer support and signpost to key services.

The Council is pulling together information about events and services being organised by volunteers, community groups and charities across the borough and will be listing these on the Live Well Cheshire West website, which is an online directory of services available to residents in the borough.

  • Live Well Cheshire West website
  • Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race and Equality Centre (CHAWREC) run English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses as well as hosting cultural events. Even if English levels are quite good a conversational class is a good way to brush up English skills and find a friendly group of people.

Yes, full information on what the service can offer and how to get in touch can be found on the Council website.

Any issues with visas can be raised with your local MP who can then raise it with Home Office staff.

The Council has a number of online resources to help people learn about safeguarding and protecting vulnerable residents. This includes a free online course teaching basic awareness in adult safeguarding.

Support for refugees

Each guest arriving in the UK from Ukraine as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme is entitled to a £200 interim payment to cover subsistence costs.

The payment will be in the form of a PayPoint voucher, which can be cashed at many local shops, or a Post Office Pay Out voucher, which can be cashed at any post office.

The Council will contact guests to arrange the payment.

Initially your sponsor may be able to help you contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), as well as help to register with a doctor, school, bank, obtain a National Insurance number or other services.

The national welcome pack for Ukrainian arrivals contains more information and useful links: Welcome: a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Ukrainian refugees will be able to access the same healthcare on the NHS as all UK residents.

Guests are encouraged to register with their local doctor, known as a General Practitioner, or GP, as soon as possible.

The GP will be able to help ensure any long-term medical condition is managed effectively.

Further information about public transport in the borough is available on the Council’s website, including information about bus services and a link to find out about train travel.

As part of the borough’s response to the Ukraine crisis, schools are already working together to share information and experiences in teaching children who do not have English as their first language.

The priority is that Ukrainian children go to a local school to their sponsor household so that they can build a local friendship group.

Advice from the Council’s Education service is that it is important for children to immerse themselves in the new language with good role models to help them pick up verbal skills first, then written skills at a later date.

All children living in the UK have a right to go to school in England and the same access arrangements apply to refugees.

Advice on navigating the English schools admissions system is included in the national welcome pack for refugees from Ukraine and also on the Council's website.

The Council is starting to work with employers in the borough on this issue and more information will be provided in the coming weeks.

The Council’s Work Zones are also available to help people find a job, with Work Zones located in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Winsford and Northwich.

In the meantime, we will support refugees with accessing benefits. Refugees here though the Homes for Ukraine Scheme are also entitled to an interim payment of £200 for subsistence costs when they arrive in the borough. This will be made available as soon as possible on arrival.

Job opportunities are also available on external websites like United for Ukraine, where you can search for jobs or where employers can post jobs.

Councils will carry out accommodation and safeguarding checks. We have set up a process and will try to do this before the arrival of the guest(s), but this will not be possible in all circumstances.

Our role is to confirm that the accommodation is suitable and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are carried out on all adults in the sponsor household. If there are children and/or vulnerable adults arriving, an enhanced DBS check with barred lists check will be required for all adults in the sponsor household.

Once guests have arrived, we will visit them and make sure they are safe. The guests will have a named contact who they can raise concerns with.

There is a section in the national welcome pack with covers what to do if things go wrong. This includes information on protecting and caring for your children, domestic abuse and how to contact the emergency services.

Guests will all have a named contact at the Council who they can raise any concerns with.

We know communication with family and friends will be really important to you.

It is unclear whether all mobile phone networks will work initially, your sponsor may be able to help you with this.

The British Red Cross is offering Ukrainian arrivals via Homes for Ukraine and the Family Visa Scheme free pre-loaded SIM cards and can provide mobile phone handsets if required.

Call 0808 196 3651 (Open 10am – 6pm every day) to enquire about SIM cards and mobile phones.

Some mobile phone companies are also offering help. This includes Three, which is offering pre-loaded pay-as-you-go SIM cards for Ukrainian refugees, which you can pick up in their stores, and Vodafone, which is inviting applications from registered charities to access free handsets, monthly calls and 20g of data for six months for Ukrainian refugees.

Barnardo’s has set up the Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service for anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Barnardo’s free helpline number is: 0800 148 8586. It is staffed by English, Ukrainian and Russian speakers, to offer support to children and families arriving in the UK from Ukraine.

The helpline is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 8pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. Callers will be able to get help and advice on a range of topics.

A dedicated email address:ukrainiansupport@barnardos.org.uk and webpage have also been set up for those assisting with the Ukraine response.

If you are coming to the UK with your pet you should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) before leaving Ukraine. Call: +44 3000 200 301 (option 2) or email:pettravel@apha.gov.uk

A licence will be required and the APHA is providing quick approvals to speed up the emergency licence process.

The maximum quarantine period for an unvaccinated pet is four months but:

  • If the pet is vaccinated against rabies and presenting with authenticated paperwork, the quarantine period may be shortened (determined on a case-by-case basis), or
  • If the pet is vaccinated, but travelling without paperwork, a blood test will be available to detect rabies antibodies and the presence of antibodies may allow home isolation instead of quarantine – we are awaiting further details on this.

The Government will pay the costs of any necessary quarantine, vaccination and microchipping

Volunteering to help

This is a difficult question to answer at present as we do not yet know what support Ukrainian refugees will need when they arrive and settle into life in our borough, but there are some things you can do.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) is helping the Council to co-ordinate offers of help from the community. If you want to volunteer or need volunteers, please register via CWVA volunteering platform.

The Council’s Education service would be grateful for experienced teachers/volunteers to work with children in school. If you can help email: refugeesupport@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

You can sign up to become a Community Champion to share trusted information across your community and networks, importance of connecting at very local levels to support sponsors and refugees will be an important role.

You can also make a financial donation to help. Many charities are reporting that they have been overwhelmed with donations and current Government advice is to make a financial donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal. DEC brings together 15 leading aid charities which are working on the ground in and around Ukraine to help those caught up in the conflict.

This is a difficult question to answer at present as we do not yet know what support Ukrainian refugees will need when they arrive and settle into life in our borough.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) is helping the Council to co-ordinate offers of help from the community. If you want to volunteer or need volunteers, please register via CWVA volunteering platform.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) is helping the Council to co-ordinate offers of help from the community. If you want to volunteer or need volunteers, please register via CWVA volunteering platform.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) can capture offers of available space for meetings and ensure they relate to requests.

Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) which represents the community and voluntary sector in the borough, is working on this with partners. Sign up to their e-bulletin for updates.

Volunteers should be attached to an organisation who would undertake relevant checks aligned with responsibilities undertaken. Community and Voluntary organisations with volunteers can get further guidance regarding appropriate checks from Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA).

 

Find out more about our Ukraine response webinar.

Ukraine response webinar 4 April 2022

Terms and conditions Privacy policy Cookies Contact