No support for Felixstowe hosts of Ukrainian refugees

Nicky and Steve Bain are hosting Andrii

Nicky and Steve Bain are hosting Andrii, a Ukranian refugee, but don't believe they will receive any support. L-R Nicky Bain, Andrii Khomyshenko, Kateryna Rudnytska and Anhelina Postupalen, Steve Bain and Kim Balshaw. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Three Ukrainian refugees arrived in Felixstowe on Tuesday morning, and are now safe with two host families. 

However, neither household will receive the ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month offered in the government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.  

Andrii Khomyshenko, Anhelina Postupalenko and Kareryna Rudnystska and three of their family members applied for visas under the ‘Ukraine Family Scheme’, as they have family in Felixstowe.  

However, after the three had set off for the UK, it transpired that their family would no longer be able to accommodate them. 

Fortunately, accommodation with two host families was found for them by Kim Balshaw, who runs the group ‘Ukraine2Felixstowe,’ with the aim of pairing refugees with hosts in the town.  

He contacted the authorities to inform them of the situation, and to ask if the host families might be eligible for the £350 payment. 

However, he was told that this would not be possible, as the financial help was only available to those who applied through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. The Home Office has since confirmed it is not possible to switch between schemes.

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“It is needless bureaucracy and incoherence,” he said, adding that the goodwill of the people of Felixstowe and across Suffolk was being “thwarted, taken for granted and squandered.”  

“Most of the volunteers would have done it without the money, but I think this is taking the mick.” 

“It’s wrong that families are accommodating refugees, and because they come through one scheme and not the other, they don’t get recognition.” 

Steve Bain and his wife, Nicki, are one of the families hosting the Ukrainian refugees who arrived on Tuesday. 

He expressed disappointment that no support has been offered. 

“I’m not just talking financial support. Some of these people may well need some psychological support,” he said. 

“Being able to do that whilst sitting outside of the system will be very difficult.  

“The important thing is these people have managed to get themselves out with the help of their family who live in Felixstowe, and we now need some help doing things that will get them the support they need.” 

A Home Office spokesperson said Ukrainians who have come to the UK through the Ukraine Family Scheme are unable to switch to the Homes for Ukraine route and vice versa.

A statement added: “Taken together, our generous Homes for Ukraine and Ukraine Family schemes are one of the fastest and biggest visa programmes in UK history, with almost 30,000 visas issued and thousands more expected to come through these uncapped routes. 

“Ukrainians entering the UK through the Ukraine Family Scheme are entitled to three years’ leave to remain and full access to work, study and benefits – including Universal Credit. Local authorities have a duty to provide support to people on the family scheme, including homelessness where required."