The Homes for Ukraine scheme continues, and during the last week Merton sponsors received their first guests, as scores of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their homeland, including families with children, arrived in the borough.
Council staff and our partners at Polish Families Association, Commonside Trust, Wimbledon Guild and Age UK, as part of the Merton Hub, have been helping hosts and refugees to settle. You can find their contact details on the digital hub.
There have been teething problems with the scheme, which is administered by central government through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office, which means some applications appear to have stalled in the system.
We’d like to appeal to hosts and sponsors to bear with the bureaucratic issues and wait for visas to be granted, which they will be informed of by the Home Office when they are cleared. This is being addressed at a national level as more staff are brought in to cope with the backlog of applications.
The council will then be able to move forward with checks on properties in the borough, but we need to prioritise those refugees who are already here and those with visas who are on their way.
We appreciate the frustrations that hosts must have as they wish to welcome their hosts, but would please ask that when you contact our helplines or those of our partners, which can be volunteer-run, that you treat staff on them with courtesy.
For more information about the scheme, visit our digital hub for hosts and guests: this page will be regularly updated as phases of the scheme are announced. We will also be sending out weekly updates in our email newsletter and will be posting stories on social media with the hashtag #Merton4Ukraine.