Many of us have been shocked and saddened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The news and pictures we're all seeing across our TVs and social media are difficult to process, and something that we hoped never to see in our lifetimes.

Sheffield stands in unity and solidarity with the people of Ukraine at this time. On 25 February we lit up the Town Hall in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag. Councillor Terry Fox (Leader of the Council), Councillor Douglas Johnson (Leader of the Green Party) and Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed (Leader of the Liberal Democrats) released a joint statement about the situation in Ukraine.

Sheffield is twinned with the city of Donetsk in the east of Ukraine. This is in an area currently under Russian occupation and it is hard to get accurate information about the situation there. Our thoughts are with the people of Donetsk and the whole of Ukraine at this time.

How you can help

As a City of Sanctuary, Sheffield is committed to our values and heritage of offering a warm welcome to those seeking safety. We will welcome Ukrainian refugees, and show the same compassion and support to them, as we do to all those forced to flee conflict or persecution. There are different ways to help including registering to welcome refugees through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

You can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Appeal to help DEC charities provide food, water, shelter and healthcare to refugees and displaced families. The Government will match the first £20m of donations made to the DEC appeal.

You may also want to donate to a number of other organisations supporting the international effort for Ukraine, including the British Red Cross, UNICEF and Save the Children.  We would encourage anyone wanting to help to donate money rather than physical goods. Money will get more help to those who need it more quickly than physical goods which must be sorted and transported to Ukraine before they can be used.

Other organisations supporting Ukraine that you can donate to are:

  • City of Sanctuary Sheffield has information about ways to offer support to those caught in the Ukraine conflict
  • The UNHCR Refugee Agency emergency appeal is to help ensure that Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are sheltered and safe
  • Nova Ukraine seek to provide humanitarian aid for Ukraine and help ordinary people and families with children affected by war
  • Ukraine Charity are a UK registered charity, supporting with medicines and medical equipment
  • British-Ukrainian Aid supports people suffering from the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by aligning UK and Ukrainian efforts

There are also many local community-led projects happening as, again, voluntary and community sector organisations and volunteers step forward and give their support.

Regulators have urged the public to give safely to registered charities.

What we are doing

We are working hard to help those arriving from Ukraine and a huge effort is underway to make sure we are in the best position possible to support them.

As a city, we want to offer tailored support to our new arrivals and ensure that appropriate services and support are available.

To achieve this, we are working closely with partners across the city including education, health, the Department for Work and Pensions, voluntary, community and faith sector, and with members of the local Ukrainian community.

Within the council, we have set up teams to focus on each of the main areas of work: infrastructure, education, family support, social care, accommodation and safeguarding, support for Ukrainian refugees and support for sponsors who have signed up to host refugees and health.

Homes for Ukraine

The Homes for Ukraine scheme is a sponsored visa route for those without family connections to the UK. Families and individuals can be matched with sponsors who offer them accommodation for a minimum of six months.

Non-British citizens who want to host must have leave to remain in the UK for at least 6 months.

Potential hosts and their accommodation will need to pass mandatory checks.

The host will receive a ‘thank you’ of £350 per month, paid in arrears for accommodating an individual or family in their home.

Arrivals on this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years, and access benefits, healthcare, and other support.

You can register for the scheme on the Government website. Further infomation is available at GOV.UK: Homes for Ukraine scheme: frequently asked questions.

Ukraine Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme is for those with a Ukrainian family member in the UK. It allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK and it is free to apply.

Those arriving on this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years, and access benefits, healthcare, and other support.

Unlike the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the Government will not provide any financial support to those hosting family arriving through this route.

Organisations supporting the Ukrainian community

Organisations offering help to the Ukrainian community include:

  • Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) is the largest representative body for Ukrainians and those of Ukrainian descent in the UK. It exists to develop, promote and support the interests of the Ukrainian community in the UK
  • Refugee Rights Hub based at Sheffield Hallam University can offer free legal advice and support for those wanting to bring Ukrainian family members to the UK
  • Ukraine Advice Project UK provides free UK immigration advice for those wishing to leave Ukraine

Mental health support

This will be an extremely difficult time for all of us who are personally affected by the events reported recently and may be worried and concerned about the implications from a wider perspective.

If you feel you need some extra support throughout this time, there's lots of support available and people you can talk to. The Sheffield Mental Health Guide is a good starting point for information about the help that is available locally.

Helping children understand the situation in Ukraine

This is a challenging situation for children to understand. Many may find it hard to understand what's happening and be scared by what they hear and see happening in Ukraine. The news and social media feeds are filled with information, pictures and also some misinformation; some of it's very upsetting and worrying and may not even be verified. 

You'll find some links in Supporting information that can help:

  • supporting your child if they see upsetting content online about what is happening in Ukraine: five ways to talk to your children about conflict (Save the Children)
  • newsround has some great content to help explain the situation and understand fake news too
  • we should not hide from children what is happening in Ukraine (Schools Week/Children's Commissioner)
  • help for teachers and families to talk to pupils about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how to help them avoid misinformation (Department for Education)

Government support for Ukraine

The UK and our international partners are united in support of Ukraine. The UK government is providing a range of economic, humanitarian, and defensive military assistance to Ukraine, and is imposing additional sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

Visa enquiries

We are receiving an increasing number of contacts from sponsors and family members of those travelling to the UK, and some refugees, to express concern and request support in finding out about the progress of visa applications and resolve issues.

This is not something we are able to help with as the UKVI are a government agency.  We have been referring these enquiries to local constituency MP’s and requesting that the Sheffield based sponsor or family member use this route to request support in finding information and to seek issue resolution.

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