North Norfolk’s Response to Ukrainian Refugees
Date published: 28th March 2022
In response to worsening situation in Ukraine and the mass migration of women, children, and older people from Ukraine into neighbouring European countries – particularly Poland and Hungary, the Government announced a Homes for Ukraine scheme on 14 March, asking people with spare rooms or homes to register their interest in offering refuge to people fleeing Ukraine.
Advice from Government last week to local authorities was limited with detailed guidance finally being issued Friday 18 March.
Local authorities are seen as having a central role in supporting delivery of the Homes for Ukraine scheme – somewhat like the initial COVID response, and we have established an internal Project Team resource to plan our response alongside other Norfolk districts and the County Council.
In North Norfolk, we are:
• Undertaking property inspections of accommodation through our Environmental Health team into properties offered through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
• Our People Services team are developing proposals to provide ‘welcome’ support to hosts providing accommodations.
• Cabinet have approved a provision of funds for the appointment and recruitment of a Ukrainian/Russian speaker as a Community Support Officer to assist refugees with doctor registration, access to education or financial support and, for those able, to access employment.
• Working with colleagues at Norfolk County Council to provide a “Welcome Centre”, where arrivals can seek advice, basic information and essentials to settle.
• Engaging with Place UK, in Tunstead, who provide temporary working visas through the UK’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAW) to prepare to take on more workers this season.
Leader of the Council Cllr. Tim Adams said:
“At this stage, it’s difficult to know the level of support North Norfolk will be required to offer, as we do not yet have clarity over how many refugees will arrive with us. The guidance is relatively new and as a developing situation, we will react adaptively to support them, working with our communities and neighbouring authorities.
We are preparing to ready North Norfolk ahead of arrivals and are ready to offer a range of support where possible.”
At the present time, the Council has been notified of up to 12 host accommodation providers in the District but this is expected to rise over the coming weeks.
The Council has received offers of support from many town and parish councils and other organisations wishing to provide toiletries, clothing, and other provisions to arrivals, and are keeping a record of these offers to call upon them when we understand the needs of those people arriving and settling in North Norfolk.