Ukraine crisis

We stand with the people of Ukraine and everyone affected by the conflict and humanitarian crisis

We’re flying the Ukrainian flag above our Town Hall and Castlewood offices as a mark of solidarity. We’ll also avoid buying items or services supplied from Russian companies and we’ve asked our suppliers and contractors to do the same. You can read more in our statement on Ukraine.

Here are some useful links to support for Ukrainian nationals, latest government advice and how you can help.  

Homes for Ukraine

The government has launched 'Homes for Ukraine' to help Ukrainians come to the UK, including people without any family links to the UK.

Individual sponsors will be asked to provide homes or a spare room rent-free for as long as they're able to, with a minimum stay of six months. In return they'll receive £350 a month.

The first phase of the scheme will allow sponsors in the UK to nominate a named Ukrainian or Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property.

If you already have a named contact who you wish to sponsor you should get in touch with them directly and fill in a visa application with all of their details and yours. There's more information on the Homes for Ukraine website, where you can also register your interest in being a sponsor if you don't personally know anybody fleeing Ukraine

Arrival procedure

Pre-arrival checks - refugees

The checks on Ukrainian refugees wanting to travel to the UK to resettle are being carried out by central government. We are not able to make these happen faster or provide any information about progress. We only receive details of Ukrainian nationals arriving into North Somerset once these checks have been completed.

Pre-arrival checks – sponsors and hosts

We are carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service criminal record checks for all adults (16 and over) in sponsor households. We are working through these in the order we receive them. There’s no need for you to contact us about these checks.

Accommodation checks

These will be carried out after refugees’ arrival to the host household. We will contact host families to make an appointment for this to happen.

Support for refugees

Once refugees have arrived in North Somerset they will be able to access a comprehensive support package to enable them to settle in to their new surroundings and adapt quickly to their new lives.

We will help them with:

  • accessing education, including helping children to start school as soon as possible
  • accessing NHS healthcare locally
  • claiming any benefits they’re entitled to and signposting to employment advice and guidance
  • integrating into the local community, working with our local community groups
  • opening UK bank accounts
  • learning English through local language lessons

Schools

Any children of families we have welcomed to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine are entitled to a school place.

Applications for a school place made within the family's first year in England are called in-year admissions. An in-year admission is an application for reception or year 7 after the start of the school year, or an application for any other year group at any time.

Although some schools will have places available throughout the year, the choice of schools is likely to be limited due to some of the most popular schools being full. You can get information on which schools in North Somerset have places still available by calling 01275 884 078.

All applications need to be made by the child’s parent or carer who holds parental responsibility and not by the sponsor family. Any applications received by the sponsor family host will not be processed.

School admission authorities may ask for evidence of the child’s address with the application. This is important because some schools operate catchment areas (prioritising children for admission who live close to the school). Distance from home to school is often used as a first tie-break to determine who is offered a place.

Applications will receive an outcome within 15 school days of receipt, although this is usually quicker.

Children might not be offered a place at their chosen school. If you are refused a place, you can ask to be placed on the school’s waiting list. Children can attend a school and remain on other schools’ waiting lists in case a vacancy arises. Whenever a child is refused a place, a right to appeal is offered. The appeal panel is independent of the school.

Work

Appeal for North Somerset businesses to offer employment support for Ukrainian refugees

Businesses across North Somerset are being encouraged to offer roles for Ukrainian refugees as part of the county’s efforts to support the invaded country.

North Somerset will soon welcome approximately 350 people through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

If you are an employer and want to offer work to Ukrainian nationals, please email us at business@n-somerset.gov.uk. You will need to tell us:

  • your company name and contact details
  • how many roles you have available
  • the location of the role
  • job description
  • if the role is part-time, full-time or a different working pattern
  • if English language qualifications are needed
  • any support you can offer for example, relocation packages, mentoring or English lessons

Please note, there is no obligation for you to provide accommodation to the individuals you employ. You can offer full time, part time or voluntary roles. Whatever vacancies you do offer, the individual(s) must have the right to work in the UK so you will also need to contact the Home Office to do the appropriate checks.

Employment and skills support

Opportunity North Somerset is a one front door approach to Employment and Skills support. We work with all North Somerset residents including refugees, to tackle individual barriers to employment and skills.

Our advice hubs which are held in libraries throughout the district and Job Centres in Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare, focus on supporting:

  • employment
  • digital
  • business start-up
  • wellbeing
  • youth support

We have a thorough knowledge of local provision and can link our residents with providers including:

  • Weston College
  • Curo
  • VANS
  • National Career Service
  • Job Centre plus
  • Community Learning
  • Salvation Army
  • North Somerset Enterprise Agency
  • West of England Works

For more information or to book an appointment at an Opportunity North Somerset employment and skills hub please email skillssupport@n-somerset.gov.uk

English for speakers of other languages

North Somerset Community Learning team at North Somerset Council is delivering English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses across the region.

The courses are non-accredited and vary from pre-entry level to Level 2 with the aim to support people from different communities to integrate into their life in the UK.

In light of the Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine we are seeing an increased demand for ESOL classes, both accredited and non-accredited. We are working closely with our community groups and organisations to establish a network of ESOL based support groups for the Ukrainian refugees.

If you have previous experience in teaching ESOL or English as Foreign Language (EFL) and are keen to support the delivery of ESOL provision in North Somerset please contact Iona Gibbons, Community Learning Development Worker on iona.gibbons@n-somerset.gov.uk.

Accommodation for refugees

If you would like to offer accommodation for refugees of the Ukrainian crisis please email the detail of your offer to refugeeresettlementteam@n-somerset.gov.uk.

Other ways to help

Thank you to everyone who has been collecting and donating to help the people of Ukraine and everyone affected by the conflict.

Sadly, it looks as though aid and support will be needed for some time.

We're working with Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) to support local communities to help Ukraine and to help make sure the right aid is available at the right time.

VANS has set up a Just Giving page to coordinate and manage funding and financial donations to support the local response.

There are also a number of national and international organisations which you might like to donate to. Please do check the validity of any organisation you donate to - unfortunately there will always be scammers who try to take advantage of situations, including the Ukraine crisis. Here are some links to just some organisations:

Help for Ukrainian nationals

The latest information and guidance on the visa support available to Ukrainians and their family members is available on the gov.uk website.

Travel advice

The Government advises against all travel to Ukraine. The latest advice is available on the Foreign Office website.

Mental health support

With everything that's happening you may be feeling anxious, angry, uneasy or low. We'll all be feeling differently and that's ok.

If you’re struggling, try to talk to someone you trust. Do things you enjoy, stay active and look after yourself. It’s important to feel informed and not overwhelmed. Try and find a way to take in the news that works for you.

You can find information about local support services and suggestions on how to manage your wellbeing on our mental health pages.

Other sources of support and advice

We’re proud of the strengths in our community, and the vitality and benefits brought by our citizens from around the world.

We urge everyone in our North Somerset community to support each other with friendship, kindness and understanding.

Hate crime is unacceptable and should always be taken seriously. There is help and support available. You can find out more including how to report a hate crime and details of local support on the Safer Stronger North Somerset and Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI) websites.

If you’re wondering how to talk to your children about the crisis, BBC Newsround have some good resources on their website.

If you need any more information, please get in touch with us at refugeeresettlementteam@n-somerset.gov.uk.