Ukraine: Room for Refugees and How It Works

29 March 2022

We live in a country whose government is uniquely forcing war refugees to get visas like holiday tourists with time on their hands. It has unleashed safeguarding breaches on an industrial scale by forcing children and young people to turn to social media for "sponsors", exchanging personal details with strangers.

Ukrainians should be coming into this country without visas or sponsorship requirements. They are war refugees. All over Europe, Ukrainians can rely on the Temporary Protection Directive. Except in the UK.

Michael Gove said there was "no limit" on the number of Ukrainians allowed in to the country. He said it with such assuredness. Of course he did. He knew that the double padlock of visas and sponsors would virtually guarantee that only a trickle of refugees will enter the UK, while all of Europe is rolling its sleeves up, working with NGOs, and bringing in millions of people.

The refugee crisis, whether this one, or any other, is not going away. We are currently finding hosts for over 500 Ukrainian families and minors living in war zones or on the borders. Sponsors have been found for some from our established register of hosts. We are working through our register.

Our hosts do this privately and quietly, helping someone who has just experienced the trauma of losing home, family, country and don't know when will they return. Its a quiet, dignified welcome.

People have written to us expressing guilt for not being able to host someone. If you can't find space in your home, physically or mentally, don't feel guilty or pressured to offer room. The media circus will pass. Volunteer, give a donation. Ignore the media frenzy, the virtue signalling and focus on the unfolding tragedy and how to help.

Room for Refugees works from a pool of hosts in different parts of the country. It is not a service for host-sponsors, though we provide support. It is a humanitarian gesture offered to people in need. Assessing their requirements comes before the demands of a potential host desperate for the latest refugee.

If you really want to help, then offer it, it will be appreciated. And if we need your offer, in your area, and with your profile, don't worry we will ask. We have a system, and we follow that. If we don't get in touch, don't take offence, there's a combination of factors. One of them is that we are helping others. We need willing hosts who understand and are patient, and are happy to be there, in case.

Very few of the registered offers on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme will go anywhere. 9 out of ten offers have not been assessed. Meanwhile, the UK government possesses the personal data of over150,000 UK residents - a list of "do-gooders" in the Home secretary's words.

Europol warns in its Early Action Notification Warning of 24 March that Human trafficking on social media is in high season. It has been turbo charged by Michael Gove's scheme. This led thousands of desperate people to turn to social media to find "sponsors" and told people wanting to offer spare rooms to ukrainians to "find a refugee". One facebook page set up by "Michael" has fifty thousand members, with pictures of beautiful women, girls and children seeking sponsors. One of our supporters tried to post a warning about safeguarding, and this was refused by the moderators.

We urge people - especially young people and women with children - not to find a sponsor from social media as they may not be vetted and may not be who they say they are. Contact us, we are an NGO, and we will register you and then find a suitable, trusted and safe host for you. We will do it  quietly with people we trust, who can give you the space to recover and rebuild. For more info: e:

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