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Welcoming and hosting Ukrainian refugees in our parishes

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Introduction

Working in partnership with Citizens UK, the Diocese of Chelmsford is supporting people in churches across our Diocese to host guests from Ukraine throught the Government's Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

This page provides regular updates and information about how you can get involved. 


An Update from our Communites for Ukrainians Support Team Co-ordinator, the Revd Andy Griffiths

October 2022

We now have 46 Ukrainian guests on the ground in East London and Essex, with the last family finally (frustratingly) receiving letters from the Home Office which they had been waiting for since May. We don’t push for stories, but we’ve been hearing them anyway. Like the baby born by emergency C-section just a couple of days after her mum arrived with her hosts (one of the hosts was the birthing partner), or the guest who said she hadn’t slept properly for 5 months (when she got to the Essex coast, she slept through the night and woke for lunch), or the guest who fled westwards as the Russian forces advanced from the east behind her, passing through each station on the last train as the infrastructure shut down and the platforms were closed.

Meanwhile, Diocese of Chelmsford Churches have formed “social hubs” where hosts and guests can come and network, regardless of how the matching took place. As guests become more comfortable in the UK and find jobs, and hosts are reassured, some of the hubs are finding less demand for what they offer; though others are finding new life as places where hosts and guests can organise to address the authorities about the scheme. We have put in multiple freedom of information requests to local authorities, and Bishop Guli has asked multiple questions stemming directly from the hubs in parliament.

St John’s Church Moulsham, in Chelmsford was full to overflowing on August 24 (Independence Day) when Ukrainian guests organised children’s crafts, haircuts, raffles, artwork and quizzes. Then Anastasiia, a guest living in Roxwell, preached her first sermon, which she had prepared together with Andy Griffiths, the Communities for Ukrainians Coordinator. 

The Revd Canon Andy Griffiths


How you can get involved

 

Support our hubs

Our parish hubs would welcome the support of other parishes and worshipping communities across our diocese and particularly those who are nearby. 

There are many ways that support can be provided, from offering the use of a church building for occasional communtiy activity to fundraising and financial support. If your parish or worshipping community is interested in offering support to one of our hubs, please email our Communities for Ukrainians Support Team Co-ordinator, the Revd Andy Griffiths at agriffiths@chelmsford.anglican.org

 

Rent A Room Scheme
 

We’re starting to think about the next step for our Ukrainian guests, after their 6 months (or, more frequently, 12 months) of sponsorship. For some, renting a flat or house on the private rental market may be feasible, but for many, this will be unaffordable. This is why we are asking churches in the Diocese to let their members know about a government scheme.

Under the Rent a Room Scheme, homeowners (and sometimes tenants) can become “resident landlords”. This means they have let out part of the property that is their only or main home. Resident landlords can earn £7,500 per year tax-free under the Rent a Room Scheme; the lodgers are entirely responsible for their food. The resident landlords can give less notice to end a letting than if they rented out the property as a whole. Note that a landlord cannot use the scheme for homes converted into separate flats or for unfurnished accommodation. If you’re on Universal Credit, any money you get from sub-tenants and lodgers under the Rent-A-Room scheme will not be counted as income up to £7,500. More information can be found here. 

Of course, it’s a big thing to rent out part of your home to a person or family, especially because, unlike in a standard tenancy, no deposit is charged. However, while we cannot provide any guarantees, we can introduce potential resident landlords to Ukrainian guests, who by now speak English, are usually in employment, have access to the housing component of Universal Credit if needed, and have hosts who know well what it’s like having them in their homes and would gladly tell you about their experiences. Discuss it with your church community, and then contact us and we’ll do our best to connect you with an existing host and guest.


 

A prayer

Dear Lord, you blessed us with new life
by crossing the borders of heaven and moving into our neighbourhood.

Your parents fled with you from violence,
carrying you in their arms in hope-filled fear.
We still our hearts:
help us know you are with us, making your home in us,

being yourself, in the presence of us being fully ourselves.
We act for justice and mercy:
help us see in those we host, and those who welcome us,
your image, valuable beyond words,
and your blessing that will bring new life.

Amen.


Liturgical resource

Click here to download A service of the Word translated into Ukrainian and Russian

Download Communion liturgy in English and Ukrainian


For more information please contact The Revd Andy Griffiths
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