The Homes for Ukraine matching service pairs Ukrainian people displaced by the war in their country with parishioners in this country who are willing to host them for six months.

This service is a partnership between Caritas Social Action Network, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and the Catholic charity and CSAN member, St John of God Hospitaller Services. One year on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are seeing an increase in the numbers of those still wishing to evacuate and find refuge in the UK.

We are acutely aware that for many people in our parishes, the focus is on coping with the cost-of-living crisis and the rising costs of energy, housing, and food. Some, however, may be less affected by that and may have room in their homes and their hearts to consider welcoming a stranger under their roof at this difficult time.

More information, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the website at:

We are very keen to hear from individuals or parishes who are welcoming refugees so that we can share best practices and good news across the Diocese. Email us [email protected]

How do we start the process? The first step is to register your interest in the UK Government Homes for Ukraine scheme. There is detailed UK Government guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions.  There is also specific guidance on how to apply for a visa and general guidance for sponsors.  A summary of the scheme is available in Ukrainian and Russian. The guidance on the UK Government site is being updated so it is worth checking back for updates.  Those hosting may want to pay particular attention to the accommodation requirements to ensure their homes are ready to receive guests.

How to match with a Ukrainian refugee? There are several organisations that have experience in hosting refugees in the UK and who may be able to help to match you with a Ukrainian refugee. The most prominent in the UK is  Reset – this charity is backed by the UK Government to run a matching service. Rest is working with Refugees at Home (the charity Mary Stretch spoke about) to provide a thorough assessment and training service for hosts as well as ongoing support for both the hosts and refugees.  Other charities and organisations are also offering matching services including Ukraina Space which is available worldwide and is available in several languages.

What funding opportunities are there for assisting refugees? Sponsors must NOT charge rent to their refugee guests, but in recognition that providing accommodation will incur costs to sponsors, the government is offering an optional “thank you” payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months. These payments are optional in the sense that any sponsor may choose not to receive a “thank you” payment if they so wish, but, subject to local authority checks on the standard of accommodation being offered, the sponsor may if he/she wishes to choose to accept the monthly “thank you” payment, which is payable monthly in arrears. It is unclear as to the precise mechanism for claiming/receiving these payments, but this may become clearer once a sponsor has received the local authority visit to check the suitability of the accommodation being offered and upon which the decision to make available “thank you” payments is based.

Although there is no obligation on a sponsor to provide food in addition to accommodation, sponsors may wish to do so, and are likely, therefore, to accept the optional “thank you” payments as a means of defraying the additional costs relating to food/heating/power etc. Whether sponsors in receipt of “thank you” payments wish to pass on any of the thank you payments to their refugee guest(s) is a personal decision.  “Thank you, payments” will not affect any benefits a sponsor may be receiving (including single person council tax discount) and are tax-free.

Refugees will also receive from the local authority in which they reside an initial interim payment of £200 towards subsistence costs. This doesn’t have to be paid back. If your guest moves out of your home for any reason, you must inform your local council as you will need to let them know that you are no longer eligible for the monthly payments.

Refugees are entitled to work and claim benefits (e.g. Universal Credit) but will need to set up a UK bank account to receive benefit payments.

What happens beyond six months? – Your guests can stay more than six months. When they or you wish to end the arrangement, it is suggested that two months’ notice is given.  After the initial six-month stay, guests can apply to rent accommodation in the normal way or can seek help from the local authority. After six months, refugee guests can be eligible for housing benefits.

What support is the local authority providing? Essex County Council has published guidance on how the scheme will work in Essex.  They have also published a Welcome pack for sponsors for different areas in Essex, with translated versions being available shortly.

The Community Support Team at Brentwood Borough Council is handling the BBC response and can be reached at: [email protected].  There is also a Ukraine Support Line (0800 1488586) run by Barnardo’s.

Attending Church services:  Please note that all Ukrainian refugees are welcome to attend any of our local Catholic Churches.

  • Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral: Duke St, London W1K 5BQ
  • Greek Orthodox Church – St Eleftherios Leyton:113 Ruckholt Rd, London E10 5NT and St Barbara St Phanourios & St Paul the Apostle: Salisbury Ave, Westcliff-on-Sea SS0 7AU
  • Russian Orthodox Church – Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God & Royal Martyrs: 57 Harvard Rd, Chiswick, London W4 4ED and St John’s Church: Military Rd, Colchester CO1 2AN

Guidance for hosts/sponsors: Caritas Diocese of Brentwood has useful guidance on what to consider when hosting which includes a link to a webinar hosted by Citizens UK providing practical advice for those hosting on what to expect and the Sanctuary Foundation which also has a number of engaging videos offering advice. Also available on the Caritas website is a helpful Sponsor toolkit from Reset and a Hosting Good Practice Guide from NACCOM.

Essex is United for Ukraine is a Facebook group set up in conjunction with Essex County Council.  It provides a network for those wishing to support Ukrainian people to share information and ideas so maybe worth joining if you are hosting. There is also a sub-group for those in the Chelmsford and surrounding area.

Guidance for guests: The UK Government has published a Welcome guide for Ukrainians entering the UK and the British Red Cross has a good range of resources including videos about life in the UK and Advice for Ukrainians arriving in the UK, including psychological support. Sane Ukraine offers free daily online trauma and resilience support sessions translated between English and Ukrainian.

Refugee Education UK will shortly be publishing a guide to navigating the UK education system and will be setting up a free advice line – while awaiting this you can listen to advise from Refugee Education UK (@ 55 mins)

It is the expectation of the Diocese that any adult parishioner welcoming a child or vulnerable adult, as part of a family or otherwise, must complete a DBS check. We hope that this will also be the expectation of the Government. A DBS check can be completed via your parish Safeguarding representative or via the Local Authority. If you have any questions about this please email the Diocesan Safeguarding Office, [email protected]

Reporting abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the safeguarding office for your diocese or religious congregation, or directly to the Police.

If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to the safeguarding office in your diocese; (the relevant Diocesan safeguarding office can be located using the interactive map on the links page of the CSAS website – contact details will be shown when you click on the relevant area of the map). You can also contact CSAS by telephoning 0207 901 1920 or via email at [email protected]

Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is a lead sponsor organisation within the government’s community sponsorship scheme, welcoming refugees predominantly from Syria. Because of this involvement, we are in touch with the lead agency in the home office that is developing the scheme to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the UK.

The initial details of this scheme can be found at and a very useful grassroots website is

CSAN have shared a web-based toolkit resource on Ukraine which can be found at

In considering whether you can welcome a refugee into your home, please reflect on these key points: –

  • The commitment is for at least six months. If you are considering a period of holiday in the summertime, you will need to take this into account.
  • The government has pledged to try to match refugees with suitable accommodation. Please be very accurate when you describe your accommodation on the government website.
  • Refugees are very likely to arrive in a state of trauma and shock, and some may not speak English. Please carefully consider the support networks that you have around you. If possible, reach out to a local Ukrainian community. Your local council and your local Parish may well be able to assist with this, we strongly encourage people to link with an organisation with refugee experience so you can be fully supported.
  • Initially, the scheme is for those who know Ukrainians; the potential host names a refugee individual, couple, or family that they are willing to accommodate. After that, the Government will help “match” refugees with those who are offering homes, and they say that they are building Safeguarding and GDPR requirements rigorously into this.

How you can help refugees arriving in the UK as a Parish: – 

  • Link parishioners who are welcoming people, to give them an embracing network of support – arrivals will need a lot of care and help, including in some cases with language, health, jobs and schooling – the parish could be a wonderful network for this.
  • Safeguarding will also be a vital consideration; those arriving are very likely to have suffered trauma, and to be vulnerable. Many will arrive with children.
  • For all of this training, support and preparation will be vital for those hosting; the Government scheme is pledging to offer this, and we would encourage you to help at parish level by bringing together people who are hosting, before refugees arrive, to take part in training and sharing ideas together, again helping to build a network locally.