The situation in Ukraine is deeply concerning and I join Wealden residents in being utterly appalled by the actions of Putin’s regime and horrified by what is unfolding in Europe.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and are supporting them in their defence against Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion. The UK has now donated over 300,000 vital medical supplies to Ukraine after another plane flew out 3 March.
On 21 March, the UK supplied over 3.7 million items of medical supplies to Ukraine – including 300,000 sterile needles, 32,000 bandages, 160,000 wound packs, and 220,000 packs of medicine – with the eleventh flight of humanitarian aid leaving from Heathrow.
At the NATO and G7 Leaders’ meeting on 24 March, the Prime Minister announced that the UK was providing an additional 6,000 anti-tank missiles and £25 million for the Ukrainian military – more than doubling the defensive lethal aid we are providing to more than 10,000 missiles, on top of our £400 million in humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine.
Homes for Ukraine
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, has today launched a webpage for sponsors to record their interest, ahead of Phase One of the scheme opening for applications this Friday, 18 March.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety – including those with no family ties to the UK.
Phase One of the scheme will allow sponsors in the UK to nominate a named Ukrainian or a named Ukrainian family to stay with them in their home or in a separate property.
Record your interest on the Homes for Ukraine webpage.
Make a donation
If you'd like to help, please focus your donations and support via the approved Disasters Emergency Fund. Donations of all sizes are welcome, and the Government has pledged to match pound-for-pound the first £20 million donated to this appeal. You can donate here.
For more information on what you can do to help, please click here.
July 2022: Latest figures show that at 1,130 guests have arrived in East Sussex under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, with 483 in Wealden. Thank you to every host and every community making our guests welcome.
The guests are at 496 different properties across the county. More than 325 school places have been allocated to Ukrainian children.
The figures suggest we can expect more than 1,581 Ukrainians to come to East Sussex in total, meaning the county has received over 71% of our number of anticipated arrivals.
Information from East Sussex County Council
The East Sussex County Council has published a Welcome to East Sussex guide, which is available in full Ukrainian translation here.
For any questions, hosts and guests can contact the Council by email email@example.com or telephone helpline 01323 724748
Guests can arrange for their £200 cash welcome payment (and four free weeks of travel on Stagecoach buses) by contacting their local voluntary association:
- In Eastbourne, Lewes or Wealden - contact 01323 639373
- In Hastings - contact 01424 444010
- In Rother - contact 01424 217259 or 07871 603235
I would like to thank everyone who has offered support so far. I am proud that Wealden is leading the way in providing support in East Sussex, accommodating the most arrivals in the county. It is a huge task, and I am pleased that we now have over a hundred guests in Wealden. I appreciate that the process has not been as easy as it should be. I am putting pressure on the Home Office every day and making repeated representations to ensure that we can provide Ukrainian families with a place of safety as soon as possible.
Reporting concerns: emergency contact details
Keeping people safe
Families have a right to live in safety, free from any kind of abuse and neglect, and to be protected if their safety is at risk. We call this ‘Safeguarding’, and people can report any concerns they have about themselves or any adult or child.
The document Guidance on Raising Concerns about Abuse and Neglect gives information about signs of abuse and neglect. It explains what should be reported as a safeguarding concern.
Safety of adults
If anyone has a concern about an adult at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, they should:
Safety of children and teenagers
If someone is worried about a child or teenager who might be at risk of harm, they should:
Payments to hosts now starting
Hosts of refugees under the Homes for Ukraine scheme will now be able to start applying for £350 monthly payments.
These payments are optional. If hosts do decide to apply for them, the payment will be backdated to the day their guests arrived. The payments will be made by their borough or district council for up to 12 months.
Borough and district councils will email those who've been hosting for a month or longer over the next few days with details of how to apply online.
East Sussex County Council asks for patience and understanding as payments begin.
Those who have been hosting for a month or longer will be made a priority, but no one should worry if they don't hear immediately from their borough or district council: they're working to contact all hosts as quickly as possible.
ESCC are here for all urgent queries, but ask people not to contact them to ask about payment dates. This will free staff get the work done as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your patience.
For severe difficulties, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
New way to pay £200 to arriving guests
A new way of getting the £200 welcome payment to guests arriving on the Homes for Ukraine scheme is being launched.
They'll be sent a voucher code to their mobile phones which they'll then be able to show at any post office branch to get the payment. One person will be able to obtain the one-off payment for everyone in their group.
Text messages from the post office will begin going out to recently-arrived guests from next week.
Some guests may first be contacted by one of the local councils to check the right number to use.
This payment system will replace the payments which our brilliant local voluntary action groups have been managing up to now. We hope new arrivals will find it an easy way to collect their welcome payment.
June 2022 update: Host payments: change to first payment
Local boroughs or district councils are now contacting hosts to advise them how to claim their optional £350 monthly ‘thank you’ payment, funded by the national government.
East Sussex County Council and our partners want to say an additional ‘thank you’ so we’ll be topping up the first month’s payment to £500 (for those who wish to claim) in recognition of the incredible support and commitment our hosts have provided and the costs that can come with this.
Help with claiming benefits
There's full advice on how to claim benefits (including Universal Credit) in our 'Welcome to East Sussex' guide for guests.
They will need a face to face appointment to provide ID after making a claim. This will be at one of the five Jobcentres in East Sussex: in Hastings (two sites), Bexhill, Eastbourne (2 sites), Lewes and Newhaven.
Some Jobcentres open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, so in most weeks they might be asked to attend on any of those days. However all centres will be closed from next Thursday to Sunday (2-5 June) for the bank holiday weekend.
Claimants are paired with a Work Coach to help them into employment and all jobcentres offer translation services on site.
There's more in our online welcome guide, in Ukrainian, Russian and English.
Click here to find out more.
Benefits calculator: What are guests entitled to?
If guests are unsure what they're entitled to since arriving in the UK and have yet to apply for universal credit or other types of benefits, they can use the following tool to receive an estimate of their entitlement to benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit 👇
If guests have not yet applied for Universal Credit, they should do so as soon as possible here.
Advice and guidance for Ukrainians renting in the UK 🏡
As our guests begin to settle into UK life and become more independent, many will eventually want to look for a flat or house of their own to rent. Below is some useful information to help them get started. Although the rental market in the UK is competitive at the moment, the following tools should help them to understand the cost of renting across different regions of the UK and search for available properties.
🏡 To see the average cost of rent across different areas of the UK, click here.
🏡 For a checklist guide on how to rent in the UK, click here.
There are also many property apps available that they can use to find a place to rent in a specific town or city of their choice. These include:
Help with food and essential items ️
Citizens Advice in East Sussex are now able to provide support to Homes for Ukraine guests who are struggling to buy food and essential items.
Homes for Ukraine guests can contact their local Citizens Advice and apply for a food voucher, and small grant to cover wider essentials such phone costs, clothing costs and essential transport costs.
This CA support is funded by the DWP Household Support Fund. They can contact their local CA for more information. Click here to Contact Citizens Advice.
English language classes for Ukrainians
A number of English language courses are available for those Ukrainians that wish to develop their English language skills. These include:
- Learning | East Sussex Libraries
- Pre-entry ESOL programme – 11 week courses through East Sussex College Group in Hastings and Eastbourne
- Babbel - the language app, is offering free courses in English for Ukrainian refugees:
- Busuu language app is also offering its premium service free to Ukrainians for 3 months.
- Sanctuary Cafe
🕓 Fridays between 10am and midday (12pm).
📍 All Souls Church Hall, Wellesley Road, Eastbourne
- Ukrainian Café Hub
🕓 Tuesday afternoon 1-4 pm
📍 Robertson Street, Hastings – conversational English groups
- Education Training Consortium Sussex - based in Hastings and St Leonards. Currently offering Beginner-Elementary and Pre-Intermediate English lessons as well as IT lessons. Currently offering 8 classes per week. Looking to set up coffee mornings for conversational English.
- Refugee Buddy Project - based in Hastings and Rother - provide informal English conversation workshops, 1hr per week, helping with understanding bills, council tax, housing, driving theory.
For more information on education and training opportunities for Ukrainians in East Sussex, they can now visit the East Sussex College Ukraine Support website here.
Summer activities for Ukrainian kids
Recently we updated you about free summer activities in East Sussex for Ukrainian guests and their children. We have updated this website so that it is now accessible in Ukrainian. Guests should book as soon as possible to secure their places. Visit website.
Free membership with Freedom Leisure
Freedom Leisure Centres across the south east of England are currently offering Ukrainians free access to their facilities for the next 3 months, including use of the swimming pool, gym and fitness classes.
Participating centres are located across Hastings, Rother, Wealden, Brighton, Woking, Guildford and Arun.
To redeem this offer, Ukrainians should visit their local Freedom Leisure Centre where they will be able to sign up on arrival.
I joined colleagues in writing to the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK doesn’t fail refugees fleeing Ukraine in this crisis of war and that there is a strong package of support in place. Read the letter here.
Furthermore, the Magnitsky Sanctions APPG met with Bill Browder to keep the pressure on Government to legislate oligarch sanctions for protecting Putin's money in the UK & review ‘Golden Visas’ for Russians connected to Putin.
There will be a debate in the House of Commons on Monday 7 March on the emergency Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill. I have been working with colleagues on a series of amendments to ensure that our laws are as tight as they can be to ensure that Putin’s oligarchs are not washing dirty money through assets and companies set up in the UK.
The Bill, and the amendments I am proposing are available here.
We need to match our NATO & EU partners in ridding the dirty money from the UK and crack down on the Western enablers, the city firms who have set up the structures for the oligarchs. We need legislation that would require them to report to the Government the details of where assets are held by sanctioned individuals and how those assets are hidden.
As well as being your MP, I also represent the UK as a Member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I attended the emergency meeting at NATO HQ last month and was steadfast in our support for Ukraine and collective sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs. I will continue to work within NATO PA to support Ukraine.
I have been inundated with correspondence from local residents offering support for the people of Ukraine. I would like to thank all those who have offered support so far. I will continue to work with the Government and Wealden Council to do all we can.
I am grateful to all Wealden residents, community leaders and councillors who have been in touch. I am proud to represent a constituency where local residents want to help as much as they can. I will do my best to help too.