Situation in Ukraine

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.

 

Government schemes

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.

 

June 2022: Latest figures show that at 1,015 guests have arrived in East Sussex under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Our thanks to every host and every community making our guests welcome. 

The guests are at 427 different properties across the county. More than 298 school places have been allocated to Ukrainian children. 

The figures suggest we can expect more than 1,516 Ukrainians to come to East Sussex in total, meaning the county has received over 65% of our number of anticipated arrivals.

 

Information from East Sussex County Council

According to the latest figures on 27 May 2022,  we can expect almost 1,400 refugees from Ukraine to come to East Sussex. More than 780 Ukrainian refugees have now arrived in East Sussex, with 328 in Wealden. There are over 590 expected arrivals to Wealden, which is the most in any district of East Sussex and twice as many as any other constituency in the county.

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 ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk 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.

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 ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Recruitment days for Ukrainian guests

Recruitment days are being held in the coming weeks to support Ukrainian guests in finding work. Local employers will be attending and actively recruiting for jobs. These events will take place at the following:

💼 Eastbourne Jobcentre: 24th June 
💼 Hastings Jobcentre: 29th June

Ukrainian guests can contact their Jobcentre Plus Work Coach for more information.

 

Host support workshops

Sponsors of Ukrainian guests are invited to attend a workshop designed to help them in their role of hosting families displaced from their homeland by war in Ukraine.

The workshop is organised by the 3VA and the Association for Family Therapy.

The workshop will aim to help participants feel more confident about what to expect, how to negotiate and manage difficult areas and how to recognise when more help is needed. We recognise the kindness and generosity of those offering to host and we hope, through this workshop, to help make their experience a successful one.

The workshops are free and available at the following:

📍 Eastbourne: 25th June  🕓 12:30-3pm Register here

📍 Wealden: 23rd June  🕓 12-2.30pm Register here

📍 Lewes: 26th June  🕓 12:30-3pm Register here

 

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.

 

My support

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.

News

How to get aid to refugees from Ukraine

In light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine I have again been impressed and encouraged by the generosity of Wealden residents in trying to help those whose lives are being turned upside down. I would like to personally thank all who have offered support so far. 

Nusrat Ghani presses the Government on sanctioning top Putin Oligarchs

As part of the Magnitsky Sanctions APPG, Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden, has met with Bill Browder⁩ to keep the pressure on Government to legislate to sanction Oligarchs protecting Putin's money in the UK and to review ‘Golden Visas’ for Russians connected to Putin.