Merton has continued to receive Ukrainian refugees over the last week, predominantly at the moment through the Friends and Family scheme, but we are expecting to start seeing guests arrive through Homes for Ukraine from this week.
If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that the backlog of visa applications for the Homes for Ukraine scheme has continued to grow and the Home Office is diverting hundreds of additional members of staff to cover this unprecedented surge.
To all the borough’s potential hosts who are still waiting to hear about your application, again, we can only apologise for your wait; your generosity continues to inspire us all and we ask that you hold on for just a little longer while the schemes get fully up and running.
Locally, we have had applications for children to join schools after the Easter holidays and have also already welcomed some pupils into education across the borough. Anyone needing information on admissions should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Council will also be printing full welcome packs in English and Ukrainian for all new arrivals and their hosts.
In Merton, our partners in the voluntary and charitable sectors are working across the borough with both guests, sponsors and hosts.
Slawek and his team at Polish Family Association (PFA) have been seeing refugees for the past week for orientation appointments and these are continuing. Refugees received information about applying for school places and registering with GPs, among other things, from PFA’s team of advisors.
Over the weekend, PFA launched a Facebook page in Ukrainian for refugees from Ukraine in Merton with tips about how the NHS works and what does childcare look like in the UK.
On Tuesday 5 April there was a drop-in event at the New Horizon Centre in Pollards Hill where refugees joined East Mitcham lunch-clubbers for a craft session.
Volunteers from Wimbledon Guild and Age UK have continued to staff the Merton Hub phonelines, giving out advice to hosts, while the Salvation Army has also joined the effort.
While we obviously appreciate offers to privately set up and run events around this effort, it is best to work with our voluntary sector partners because they have had the logistical and regulatory experience to organise such initiatives.
We know that there is a lot of red tape for hosts and sponsors around the various schemes, so Merton Council will be running a webinar for them to discuss the challenges faced and to provide both material and emotional support to them as they undertake this rewarding experience.
We are hoping to hold this meeting on Tuesday 26 April; please email us at email@example.com for more details or to register for the event.
Please continue to check in our social media accounts for updates (Facebook and Twitter), we will also be publishing news stories in our press room and will continue to update the FAQs on our Homes for Ukraine webpage. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions that you have.