More Swanage residents urged to consider hosting Ukrainian refugees

With the end of summer and holiday accommodation in less demand, there’s a chance for residents in Swanage and across Purbeck to find out more about hosting Ukrainian refugees in a spare room, annex or AirBnB over winter.

An informal meeting is being held for potential hosts at 10 am on Saturday 12th November 2022 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Swanage, where they can speak to local people who are currently hosting Ukranians under the Homes for Ukraine government scheme.

St George's Church full of donations for Ukraine
James Mercer

At the start of the Ukrainian war, local residents worked together to donate clothes and essential sipplies to Ukrainians displaced by the Rusiian invasion

Beneficial experience for hosts as well as Ukrainians

The event is also a chance for those already hosting Ukrainian guests to gather with others to chat and exchange advice over a cup of tea or coffee.

Coordinator of Purbeck Connect Ukraine, Mandy Engelsma said:

“Clearly the benefits of the government scheme are overwhelmingly for the Ukrainian refugees who are escaping the horrors of war but many hosts have also found this a beneficial experience for them – they’re able to feel they are doing something to help and making good friendships.”

Rotary collecting for Ukraine outside the library

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary have raised a lot of money to help Ukrainians

£1,000 winter fuel payment for hosts

All hosts get £350 a month from the government and if they have hosted for more than six months, then Dorset Council is topping up the payment with an additional £250.

Over the winter, there’s also two payments of £500 to contribute towards energy bills. The first payment is for November 2022 to January 2023 and the second payment for February 2023 to April 2023, making a total of £1,000.

Exterior of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Swanage
Emmanuel Baptist Church

The informal meeting is at 10 am on Saturday 12th November 2022 at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 160 Victoria Avenue, Swanage BH19 1AZ

“Come along for an informal chat”

Mandy added:

“I’d really encourage anyone considering hosting to come along for an informal chat. There’s still a real need for people to offer accommodation locally.

“Some people who’ve hosted for six months feel, quite reasonably, that they’ve done their bit, so some Ukrainians who’ve settled their children in local school schools and rolled up their sleeves and got a local job, would really like to find a new host in Purbeck. Most are women with children.

“There’s also still many more Ukranians who are desperate to escape the ongoing war in their country, so we can help with matching hosts with guests, as well as assisting with visa applications and registering with Dorset Council.

“We can also advise on whether accommodation is suitable, if people are unsure.”

Ukraine flag flying in Swanage
Robin Boultwood

Early issues resolved

According to Dorset Council, early issues with the operation of the Homes for Ukraine scheme have now largely been overcome and things are operating smoothly.

Within the Dorset Council area as of 7th October 2022, there were:

  • 287 host households
  • 739 Ukrainian refugees of which 320 (43 percent) are children
  • 62 guests that have been rematched with new hosts following a move from their original host and 32 guests moved to be hosted in Dorset following arrival from another area of the country
  • 46 hosts approved and waiting to welcome 91 guests
  • 134 potential hosts who have not yet been matched to guests
  • Fewer than 5 unaccompanied children

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