Bedford Borough has a long history of being open and welcoming to migrants and refugees. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the desperate situation in Ukraine and we are ready and willing to welcome and support families fleeing the country. We will do all we can to support organisations working in the UK and abroad to help. A statement from Mayor Dave Hodgson: "The situation in Ukraine is appalling and the people of that proud country are suffering untold hardship. I am though proud of Bedford Borough’s long standing reputation of supporting people fleeing conflicts around the world. Once again our local communities are stepping up to support people in this terrible situation. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Ukrainians who arrive in our Borough." We have produced some information and guidance for Ukrainians and residents, please check back as this page is being updated regularly. Information and support for Ukrainians If you are still in Ukraine, help and support is available: UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals If you are Ukrainian and don't have family members in the UK Moving to the UK if you’re coming from Ukraine (in English and Ukrainian) Room for Refugees – finding a safe UK sponsor If you have arrived in Bedford Borough and have nowhere to live please contact our Housing Team on 01234 718008 or email email@example.com. Once you have found somewhere to live this welcome pack for Ukrainians arriving in the UK covers what you need to know in your first few days, getting used to life in the UK including how to access healthcare, childcare, education services, and how to find work. You can also read Bedford Borough’s Welcome Pack here. See also this information leaflet from British Red Cross which explains your rights and gives information on services you can access. Bedford Borough Council is working in partnership with PBIC to help and support Ukrainian guests and Homes for Ukraine sponsors in Bedford Borough. Please see the PBIC website for further details and how to access its support. More help and support is available from: Ukrainian Embassy Barnado’s Ukrainian Support Helpline National Rail's Ukrainian Displaced Persons Travel Scheme Understanding Universal Credit and Apply for Universal Credit (benefits available) RBS, Natwest and Santander (opening a UK bank account) Translated health information in Ukrainian and Russian about understanding the NHS Information for Bedford Borough residents wanting to become a host/sponsor The Homes for Ukraine programme enables UK residents to volunteer accommodation for Ukrainian refugees. If you want to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a ‘sponsor’ as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. To apply to be a sponsor you must be able to offer accommodation in a spare room or separate self-contained accommodation for a minimum of six months. Register your interest to become a sponsor We will complete property and safeguarding checks on sponsors who have successfully sponsored a Ukrainian after their visa application has been made. If you do not know a named Ukrainian you will only be able to record your interest in becoming a sponsor. The government will try to match you to a Ukrainian via charities and other organisations. You can also contact charities directly who may be able to match you to an individual or family. Some charities that are doing this include: Refugees at Home Room for Refugees Reset UK Further guidance for sponsors: The government has produced an information guide for sponsors including their responsibilities and how best to support their guests. The charity RESET has produced a toolkit developed to help you make an informed decision about becoming a sponsor. If you already know a Ukrainian national (or immediate family member) who you want to sponsor, you can help them apply for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme. Help and support when you are hosting You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01234 718008 for more information. We will provide a school places for children of school age and we will be given extra funding so that it does not impact the school places of children currently in Bedford Borough. We will provide advice and referrals to public health services where appropriate, such as mental health services, adult social care, and children’s services. We will provide an interim support payment of £200 to your guest. We will administer optional ‘thank you’ payments of £350 per month to sponsors. The £350 thank you payment will be issued one month in arrears after your guests have arrived and following checks being carried out by the Council, which will include a visit to your home. You can apply for this payment here: £350 'thank you' payment. Bedford Borough Council is adding a discretionary increase to the 'thank you' payment of £150. The additional funding comes from a special grant to help with the Homes for Ukraine scheme, taking the total up to £500 per household. We recognise that hosts may be facing additional pressures over the coming months due to the increases in the cost of living. To help with this, the Council is paying an additional £150 on top of the initial ‘thank you’ payment for those that are hosting Ukrainian guests in the months of November to March. You do not need to apply for the additional payment, however if you wish to opt out of receiving the additional top-up, please contact email@example.com. We also want to recognise the commitment of hosts who will be able to continue to accommodate their guests beyond the initial six months of the scheme, so we will also be making a one off payment of £500 to people who are still hosting their guests in March 2023 The £150 payments and £500 payment are tax-free and should not affect entitlement to benefits or Council Tax status. See Paying sponsors: Homes for Ukraine for further information on 'thank you' payments. Renting private accommodation You may decide to move out of accommodation with your sponsor and into private rented accommodation or council housing. See Renting private accommodation: Homes for Ukraine for more information. Further support and how to become a Ukrainian guest support volunteer We are working with The Harpur Trust and PBIC to coordinate care and support for guests from Ukraine arriving in Bedford Borough. Visit PBIC to find out about how to access its support services as a Ukrainian guest or becoming a Ukrainian guest support volunteer or email them at UGV@pbic.org.uk. Translations and interpreters Ukrainian to English language support - including translations of key documents needed for visa applications - is available from Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). How to make a donation You can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.