Ukrainian families evicted by hosts when money from Whitehall never came: more than 1,300 homeless or at risk

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Ukrainian refugees are being evicted by their host families due to late payments from the government’s flagship program, Homes for Ukraine.

Some 1,335 people who fled to the UK after Vladimir Putin’s invasion are now listed as homeless or at high risk due to a broken relationship with their sponsor.

But The Mail on Sunday has learned that in several cases this is due to long delays in the ‘thank you’ payment of £350 a month, which has left volunteers to dip into their own pockets to ‘cover the cracks’ .

Mariia Suslova, 65, was living in a sponsorship home with her stepdaughter Natalia, 41, and three-year-old granddaughter Sofia, but they were asked to leave a few weeks ago.

Simone Schehtman, a volunteer who has matched hundreds of Ukrainian refugees with hosts in Birmingham and the West Midlands, said: “In general the local authorities have been very slow to deliver payments which has put some hosts under stress. enormous pressure.

“Most hosts thought they were going to be paid by the end of April, but in Birmingham the first payments were made last month.”

She added that some hosts get the benefits themselves.

“Delays and skyrocketing bills have caused some host-refugee relationships to break down, and I have personally wired several hundred pounds of charitable donations to hosts to cover the cracks,” she said.

The Homes for Ukraine program was launched in March, with the government making payments to councils to be distributed.

But the Local Government Association, which represents 361 councils in England and Wales, told the MoS it only received the money in June and needed to backdate the payments.

Natalia with her daughter Sofia.  The little girl's grandmother said their hosts were

Natalia with her daughter Sofia. The little girl’s grandmother said their hosts were “annoyed” to have a toddler at home. The family are now staying at a hotel, hoping to find private accommodation

Tetiana Bilousova, 37, and her two children were deported last month after her godfather said they had not received any payment.

“The day I was kicked out, there was no discussion,” she said.

“I came home from work and suddenly I was told that tomorrow a woman would call me to put us up in a hotel.

“They didn’t try to find a compromise or discuss the issues. I had no idea the government failed to pay them.

“Nobody was at fault, but sometimes the English can forget that we have just fled the war and that leaving Ukraine was not a happy experience.

“I think the hosts may have misunderstood why I was in a bad mood and crying.

“Yes, my children are safe with me, but my mother and my husband are still in Ukraine.”

UK hosts have signed up for a minimum of six months, but a recent survey by the Office for National Statistics found that a quarter of them do not want to continue after that period, which ends in September.

Some blamed the rising cost of living for their decision and the government is reportedly considering increasing payments.

But many other Ukrainians are feared to be deported, with councils forced to ensure they still have a roof over their heads.

“We’re really worried about what’s going to happen,” said Lauren Scott, executive director of the charity Refugees at Home.

“Several Ukrainians have asked us to find them new hosts.

Mariia Suslova, 65, was living in a sponsorship home with her stepdaughter Natalia, 41, and three-year-old granddaughter Sofia, but they were asked to leave a few weeks ago.

Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has written to host families encouraging them to continue

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has written to host families encouraging them to continue

She said: “At first everything was great and we were very grateful to be there. We were told, “Our house is your house,” but that didn’t last long.

Mariia said the hosts had become ‘annoyed’ by having a toddler at home and the family were now staying at a hotel, hoping to find private accommodation.

The charity National Family Mediation, which usually works with divorced couples, trains Ukrainians to act as mediators to ease any stress between refugees and their hosts.

Meanwhile, Refugee Minister Lord Harrington and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, have written to host families encouraging them to continue.

A government spokesman said since the February invasion more than 115,200 Ukrainians had arrived in the UK.

They added: ‘The overwhelming majority of people settle well, but in the minority of cases where family or sponsorship relationships break down, councils have a duty to ensure that families are not left homeless. above their heads.

“Councils also have access to a rematch service to find a new sponsor in cases under the Homes for Ukraine programme.”

Ashcroft’s boost for Kyiv athletes

A veterans’ charity has received a generous donation from Lord Ashcroft which has enabled Ukrainian athletes to train in Britain ahead of this year’s Warrior Games.

The contribution to Bravo Victor helped the 70 competitors train, equip and house themselves at Blind Veterans UK facilities in Brighton.

Lord Ashcroft has made a generous donation to a veterans' charity, helping 70 Ukrainian athletes train for the Warrior Games

Lord Ashcroft has made a generous donation to a veterans’ charity, helping 70 Ukrainian athletes train for the Warrior Games

The team arrived in Britain four weeks ago on a flight from Poland funded by donations and are made up of veterans and ex-members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Warrior Games is a multi-sport event for wounded, injured, or ill personnel and veterans hosted by the United States Department of Defense.

Bravo Victor’s scientific director, Professor Renata Gomes, who led the athlete support initiative, said: “There have been great acts of generosity from a range of supporters, and we are extremely grateful for Lord Ashcroft’s significant contribution.”

This is the first time for Ukraine to participate in the games.

Major Yerhen Zhar of the National Guard of Ukraine said: “We can show the world that Ukraine is unstoppable and unbreakable.”

Games will continue through next Sunday at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

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