Support for Ukraine from the Diocese of Oxford

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Diocese of Oxford has joined Citizens UK as one of 20 strategic partners working together to resettle 1000 Ukrainian refugees before Easter. More than two million people have already fled Ukraine in what is being called the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two. The diocese will support a network of local groups in resettling 50 refugees across the Thames Valley area as the next step in its ongoing work with Citizens UK.

Almost 400 people contacted the diocese in less than a week to register their interest in providing support – with around half offering accommodation to a refugee or refugee family.

The government’s Homes for Ukrainians scheme, announced in mid-March, allows unlimited people to seek refuge in the UK – on the proviso they have direct family or a named sponsor here. Through Citizens UK, the diocese will link potential hosts to a suitable refugee or refugee family. This large-scale co-ordinated action allows Citizens UK and those involved in the scheme to work with partner organisations in Ukraine and make a big impact, fast.

Sponsoring a family through the partnership also ensures local groups have access to Citizens UK’s expertise and diocesan support throughout the process. Under the government scheme, refugees are granted an initial visa of six months, which can be extended to a maximum of three years, and they are able to work and access benefits and healthcare immediately. Sponsors provide rent-free housing for at least six months, and wraparound support is set to be provided by local councils through government funding.

Further support from volunteers is welcomed in a variety of areas to guarantee the longevity of the commitment. People unable to offer accommodation may be able to assist refugees with paperwork, provide transport from the airport, support language tuition and more. The diocese will connect volunteers with local host families to forge a strong network of support across the area.

The Diocese of Oxford is still looking to hear from anyone willing to provide help. Interest can be registered here, and registrants will be invited to introductory sessions taking place in late March to early April.

Date posted: Thursday 24 March 2022