Essex residents asked to open hearts and homes to Ukrainian guests

A man and woman dressed in winter clothes embrace in the foreground as refugees queue with luggage in the background.

Essex is a county full of compassionate people. Hundreds of residents have hosted Ukrainian arrivals fleeing war and persecution. However, we are seeing fewer applications from residents to become sponsors compared to last year.

The war in Ukraine has not gone away, and many arrivals are still in need of homes. If you are able, consider opening your homes to those most in need.

New or returning hosts can easily register interest in the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

To help with costs, the government is giving sponsors £350 a month for guests spending their first year in the UK. This is as well as £500 a month for the second year.

The council is also giving residents £200 per month from months seven to 24 of their guests’ stay in the UK.

You can end your hosting at any time but will be asked to host guests for at least six months.

Irena, a host from Colchester, said: “I had a feeling that I should help a young girl to settle in the UK, learn English and start a job. I found the experience very positive as I had support from the local authority and got all answers for my questions and all checks went very well.

“It is a big joy for me to see her happy as she is learning English and working now. I feel as if I have made a great contribution to help her and I do believe the world is now better. One more person has joined our fantastic community in Colchester and we support each other.

“Sharing happiness is the most pleasurable thing in our lives.”

John, a host from Maldon, added: “We had a house in Wickham Bishops that we were not ready to move into. From May 2022 until October 2023, we have hosted a family of eight. Two grandparents and their daughter’s family of six - including dad who could leave Ukraine.

“Hosting them has been a fantastic experience. They are the most delightful family. We have made friends for life, and the support has been reciprocated.

“I have now retired and we need to move into our house. They have moved to a council house in Ipswich and we are in daily contact.

“I would fully recommend hosting a family. It's the best thing we've ever done.”