This guidance is for sponsors in Wales. Although the principles of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme are the same across the UK, differences exist for some public services. For this reason, if you are a host living in Wales and sponsoring a person or family from Ukraine, you should refer to the guidance in this document.
Thank you and purpose of the guide
In the last month, millions of Ukrainians have had their lives turned upside down by an unprovoked conflict. They have seen their homes destroyed, their families torn apart, and their lives shattered.
Joining this scheme and coming forward as a sponsor is an extraordinary act of kindness. You are extending the hand of friendship to a stranger in their hour of need. In the weeks and months ahead, you will help individuals and families to find their feet and adapt to life in Wales.
Wales is the first ever ‘Nation of Sanctuary’. As people from Ukraine arrive in Wales we want to ensure they are supported to ensure their safety and sanctuary, and to have access to public services to support them.
There are few things in life more difficult than being forced to flee your country and start a new life, especially in situations such as we are witnessing in Ukraine. In supporting someone who has been displaced from their home, it is highly likely there will be a learning curve for both you, and the person and family you are sponsoring. In this guide you should find practical advice and helpful links on how best you can support the person or family you sponsor.
While this guide should be a useful reference point, we know life is not always straightforward. So, if you experience issues with your sponsorship in the months ahead, do not hesitate to tell your local authority who are ready to provide support.By opening your home and by offering your time and generosity, you will be living up to the values we all cherish and become part of a long and rich tradition of extending compassion to those most in need. We hope you find this experience a rewarding one.
This scheme draws on the enormous goodwill of the Welsh public and by becoming a sponsor, you have become a central part of what is a national effort driven by compassion. In the weeks and months ahead, the Welsh Government, charities, faith groups, businesses, local authorities and communities will come together to make a success of this scheme and give people fleeing war a proper chance to build a new life in Wales.
Thank you for becoming a sponsor
Thank you for volunteering to support some of the many people from Ukraine in need of somewhere safe and secure to stay. Becoming a sponsor is a big commitment and needless to say the Welsh Government is proud of the huge number of people from Wales who have come forward to help.
Overview and purpose
This guidance pack will set out more details about the Homes for Ukraine scheme and your role as a sponsor. Guidance will be regularly updated on GOV.UK and GOV.WALES, so please ensure you regularly check the websites for the latest advice and support. The Welsh Government’s Sanctuary website also provides resources which together make up a ‘Welcome pack’ for people coming from Ukraine, and which can also provide you with useful information as you help the person or family you are sponsoring to settle in to Wales.
How does the sponsorship scheme work?
The UK Government has created two new visa routes for people from Ukraine: the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. This guidance is for sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which is the route the UK Government has set up for people fleeing Ukraine who do not have family ties with anyone in the UK.
The UK Government designed the scheme to enable people to offer accommodation for a minimum of six months and for that to be matched to people from Ukraine wanting to come to the UK. The sponsor and the person from Ukraine need to connect outside the system and nominate each other during the application process.
An organisation called RESET has been commissioned by the UK Government to help facilitate links between people from Ukraine and sponsors who have no prior connections. Further information is available on the RESET website.
As soon as you have a connection with a named person that you wish to sponsor you should be ready to complete a visa application with them. Sponsors in the UK can be any status and nationality, as long as they have at least six months’ residency left. It is very important that sponsors are certain they are in a position to offer a stable home for the next six months.
Sponsorship extends to the immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals and there are no limits to how many people can be helped through the scheme.
Applicants must meet some basic pre-departure security checks. They will have an initial visa allowing them to live and work in the UK for six months, during which they will need to provide biometric details at a visa centre in the UK. Once applicants have done this, their visa will be extended to three years. For further information on how the scheme works, please visit the Homes for Ukraine website.
What checks need to be done?
To ensure you meet the requirements for approval as a sponsor, the Home Office will conduct standard security checks on you as well as all adults aged 18 and over who will be living in the same household as the person or family from Ukraine. This includes checks against government records and those of other third parties such as the Police National Computer. The Home Office will make these checks when considering the visa application. If, as a result, the Home Office considers that you, or other adults who are required to undergo checks, are not fit and proper to assume the responsibility of sponsoring or living with a person arriving through this route, they may refuse the visa application on the basis that you do not meet the eligibility requirements for approval as a sponsor. In that case, the person or family from Ukraine would need to find an alternative sponsor to make another application. Reasons for you not meeting the requirements for approval as a sponsor may include: the provision of false or inaccurate information; criminal convictions; immigration offences; or other illegal activity
Before any visas are issued there will be some checks led by the Home Office. The checks will be on the lead sponsor and all adults in the household where the beneficiary will stay to keep everyone safe. As the lead sponsor, you will need to ask the consent of all adults in the household to provide their details on the application form for these checks. Shortly after the individual or family arrives, the local authority will also complete basic checks on the accommodation and living arrangements.
Disclosure and Barring Service
If you are hosting within your own home, local authorities will be required to undertake basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for all adults in the sponsor household. In cases where the incoming arrivals include children and / or vulnerable adults, an enhanced DBS with barred lists check will be required promptly for each adult in the sponsor household.
You should inform the Local Authority if a new adult moves in when the people you are sponsoring are still staying with you so that a DBS check can also be conducted on them.
Thank you payments
You will want to be certain that you are in a secure position to offer a stable home to someone who needs it. Subject to DBS checks above and approval from the local authority that the accommodation on offer is of a suitable standard, you have the option to receive a monthly payment of £350, paid in arrears, for as long as you are hosting the person or family from Ukraine your guests (up to 12 months). The UK Government has stated the £350 is not a payment of rent. You will be eligible for the first monthly payment once the local authority has visited to check the standard of the accommodation. There can only be one payment per residential address and in Wales it will be sent to you through your local authority.
For sponsors who receive welfare payments, the UK Government is ensuring ‘thank you payments’ do not affect your benefit entitlement and remain tax-free. ‘Thank you payments’ will not affect any council tax discounts for single occupancy. If the person or family you are sponsoring moves out of your home for any reason, you must inform your local authority at the earliest opportunity. You will also need to let them know that you are no longer eligible for monthly payments.
How do I welcome people from Ukraine?
The most important thing is that you are able to provide at least six months of stable and suitable accommodation. This can be anything from an empty room to an unoccupied home, as long as it is safe and free from health hazards. We are asking for sponsors who can at least offer an empty room, to ensure the safety and privacy of guests. A bed in a shared space would not be an appropriate offer of accommodation for 6 months. More information is provided in the accommodation section of the guide and at annex A.
There are several things, in addition to offering accommodation, that you can do to help the person or family you are sponsoring to settle-in
- Collection from the airport/port: While you are not required to, you can arrange to collect the person you are sponsoring from the airport or port when they arrive in the UK. If this is not possible, please let them know how best to reach your home from their arrival point. From Sunday 20 March, they will be eligible for a single onward journey via national rail, light rail, bus and coach, free of charge to their final destination. In addition, Transport for Wales (TfW) has established a six-month scheme to enable people from Ukraine to travel free on any TfW services, after showing their passport to conductors and station staff. All information on this, including a journey planner to help them find their way, is available on the National Rail Enquiries website.
- Transport and getting around: The person or family you are sponsoring is unlikely to be familiar with the layout of your local area or how to get around easily. Some practical advice on things like getting to and from your home, where the local shops are, and where to catch buses and trains will go a long way. As a sponsor, you are not expected to provide transport throughout their stay.
- Food and living expenses: There is no formal requirement to cover the cost of food and living expenses, but depending on your circumstances, you may well wish to do so. Every person coming to the UK through the scheme will be able to take up a job and apply for benefits, if needed.
- Registering with a GP: It would be advisable for you to help the person or family you are sponsoring to make contact and register with a local GP as soon as possible, even if they are not ill. More information on this is covered in: Access to Public Services
- Registering with a Dentist: In addition to registering with a GP, it is advisable for the person or family you are sponsoring to register with a dentist. See Health in Wales | Find an NHS Dentist.
Assisting those who are eligible to access financial assistance
If the person or family members you are sponsoring are old enough to work, they will be able to apply to receive Universal Credit and will be able to apply for advance payments, where eligible. People from Ukraine who are of pensionable age will have access to State Pension Credit and Housing Benefit, provided they meet eligibility criteria.
Citizens Advice Cymru can provide advice on welfare benefits. For more information, check the Citizens Advice Cymru website or phone 0800 702 2020. You can call between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.
For people who have applied for these types of credit or benefits, while they await their first payment, the local authority where the sponsor accommodation is located will be asked to provide an interim payment of £200 per person from Ukraine for subsistence costs. The £200 payment does not need to be repaid by the person from Ukraine. Local authorities will also have discretion to top-up or provide further support with interim or additional payments.
- Opening a bank account: It is important that people seeking sanctuary from Ukraine open a bank account as soon as possible. It would be useful to let them know that there are a range of banks they can choose from, including online-only providers. To open a bank account, a person will usually need to show a form of identification such as a passport or a driver’s licence or a recognised identity card as well as proof of address. Further information on how to open a bank account is available on the Sanctuary Wales website
- Finding work: People seeking sanctuary from Ukraine have the right to work as soon as they have been given a visa to stay in the UK from Ukraine. If this is something they want to action quickly, you could signpost them towards employment support from Working Wales will support them with free advice, guidance and access to training to help them get into work, at a time that is right for them. More information is available from the Sanctuary Wales website and Working Wales.
Rent should not be charged to the person or family you are sponsoring under the scheme. All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. We have set out some specific guidance in Annex A. As you are offering your home or to share your home with people who have just arrived in the country you should provide them with furniture and immediate basics like bedding and towels.
As a sponsor you may want to draw up an agreement with your guests that sets a few ground rules, such as sharing use of common areas of the house, or concerning things like smoking, alcohol or noise.
There are two kinds of model agreement that could be used; an Excluded Licence Agreement or an Excluded Tenancy Agreement. There is no requirement to use either kind of agreement as part of the sponsorship scheme, but it could be helpful in ensuring all parties are clear on the terms of their arrangement. Some mortgage lenders may ask for a licence agreement to be used.
If your guests are sharing accommodation with you, for example using guest bedrooms and sharing a kitchen with you, the Excluded Licence Agreement is most suitable (also available in Ukrainian and Russian).
Local authorities will make at least one in-person visit either before or shortly after a person has arrived, to confirm that the accommodation is suitable and the person is well and that there are no serious safeguarding, or welfare concerns. For more information on the role of local authorities, read: Homes for Ukraine: guidance for local authorities.
Insurance, mortgages, landlords and leaseholders
You’ll need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they have any policies which affect the sponsoring arrangements. It is very important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before the person or family you are sponsoring arrives in the UK.
Insurers have agreed that for homeowners accommodating people from Ukraine in their home there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that the person or family you are sponsoring are accommodated as ‘non-paying guests’. Please refer to the Association of British Insurers’ statement for more details. In other situations, including where the sponsor is a landlord or a tenant, you will need to contact your insurer.
Lenders have committed to enable as many borrowers as possible to participate in the scheme. If you have a mortgage on the property you will need to contact your mortgage lender. Work is underway with the mortgage lender sector to standardise and simplify this process as far as possible.
If you are considering applying to be a sponsor you should refer to your mortgage lender and insurance provider’s websites where further advice will be available as soon as possible.
If you rent, you should seek the permission of your landlord to host a person or family from Ukraine. Your landlord may not be able to grant permission without the prior agreement of other residents to do so. If you are a leaseholder wishing to host a person or family from Ukraine, you will need to check the terms of your lease to see whether you are permitted to have lodgers or subtenants. If you are uncertain about what permissions your lease requires you to secure, you can get free advice from the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE). Further information can be provided through the LEASE website, via a telephone appointment with one of LEASE’s advisers (020 7832 2500) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Welsh Government urges landlords and fellow residents to not withhold consent unreasonably, and the Government is also urging landlords to waive any permission fees in these specific cases.
Settling into life in Wales
As a sponsor, you can support and help the person or family you are sponsoring to settle into life in Wales. The first thing to do will be to make sure they’re comfortable in their accommodation and setup with the basics. They should have enough food and essential supplies like toiletries and it’s worth checking that they’ve got access to a mobile phone and the internet so they can stay in touch with family and friends.
By coming forward as a sponsor you have already done a wonderful thing. You are supporting a person or a family fleeing war who may be significantly distressed and vulnerable. We know that once in Wales, you will provide a warm welcome along with generosity, understanding and support. A range of services are available to help the person or family you are sponsoring, these include those listed below.
Access to public services
Registering with a GP
As we mentioned previously, it would be very useful if you could help the person or family you are sponsoring to make contact and register with a local GP. You could help the person or family you are sponsoring to contact your chosen practice and ask to be included on their patient list. Alternatively, your local health board will have a list of all GP surgeries in your area and can be accessed via this link: NHS Wales health board and trusts | GOV.WALES
Anyone in Wales has the right to register and receive treatment from a GP. You do not need a fixed address or identification. If an interpreter is required, it may be helpful to talk to the GP surgery in advance. Everyone has the right to request and be provided with an interpreter by healthcare providers at no cost. If there are any problems you can call 111 in Wales (which is free to call) or 0845 46 47.
Additionally, those seeking sanctuary from Ukraine will also be entitled to access Hospitals and Maternity services free of charge, alongside free prescriptions.
Maternity and Reproductive Health
If the person you are sponsoring is pregnant, support them to notify and register with a GP surgery as soon as possible to ensure that they receive support during their pregnancy.
Anyone arriving in Wales from the Ukraine will be able to access mainstream mental health services. GP registration is essential. Initial health screening by GPs / primary care practice for those arriving from the Ukraine is expected to include an assessment for mental health conditions. Any necessary treatment will be provided as it would be for any other patient either by the primary care team, or through referral to Local Primary Mental Health Support Services (LPMHSS), the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
You or the person you are sponsoring can contact the CALL mental health help line on 0800 132 737 or TEXT 81066. The CALL helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The helpline can give support and information on mental health to people in Wales and people seeking sanctuary from Ukraine can ask for someone to speak with them in their own language. CALL will also be able to signpost you or the person you are sponsoring to support that is available locally.
Public Health Wales have developed a number of leaflets explaining the effects of being exposed to distressing events which have been translated into multiple languages. These are available under the Public Health Wales section, via the following link: COVID-19 - Information - WLGA
There is also a specific leaflet prepared by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on coping after a traumatic event, which contains information for anyone who has experienced a traumatic event, or who knows someone who has: Coping after a traumatic event | Royal College of Psychiatrists (rcpsych.ac.uk)
For more information you can visit:
Health boards across Wales have posted guidance around access to mental health support during the Covid-19 pandemic. Information and contact details regarding mental health services available locally and can be found in Annex B
There are a number of local and national charities providing front line support services for people seeking sanctuary, and often there is capacity to provide support in multiple community languages, some of these services are listed in Annex C
NHS Direct has an interpretation service which helps people who do not speak English or Welsh to get help in a language of their choice. More information about the help NHS Direct Wales can give to those who do not speak English or Welsh can be found on the Sanctuary Wales website.
It might be useful to reassure the person or people staying with you that their health needs will not affect their immigration status or affect what NHS services are available to them. A translation is available on the Sanctuary Wales website to support you with this.
Another helpful resource is Dewis Cymru which is an online database of health and wellbeing services across Wales. You can search this database for community organisations that can offer help to refugees.
It may also be useful to let the person you are sponsoring know how to access emergency healthcare. Let them know the purpose of the 999 emergency service and the role of Emergency Departments (Accident and Emergency) if they or a family member has an accident or a sudden serious illness. For urgent medical advice or help that is not life threatening call NHS 111.
Safeguarding means keeping children and adults safe from abuse or neglect. Local authority social services and the Police have the main responsibility for responding when anyone is concerned that they or someone else is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. However, they need someone to let them know (report) a safeguarding concern before they can help.
You may see or hear something that makes you worried that the person or family you are sponsoring are at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. Abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual and financial. This could be a worry about the way they treat their children or relatives or the way someone else is treating them.
You might also see or hear something that makes you worried that your children, relatives or someone else is at risk because of the behaviour of the person or family you are sponsoring.
The person or family you are sponsoring from Ukraine may also ask for your help in reporting a safeguarding concern.
Asking for help is the right thing to do. Whether you are worried about a child from Ukraine or adult, or about yourself, your family or someone in the community.
It is important to share these concerns as soon as you can. If you are worried that someone is at immediate risk of harm, for example if a child or adult from Ukraine goes missing, then you should telephone the Police on 999.
Your local authority will provide you with information about how to contact your local social services if you are worried that someone may be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. You can also find information on your local authority website by searching for the name of your local authority followed by ‘reporting a child at risk’ or ‘reporting an adult at risk’.
Online training is available that is free to access and can help you to understand more about safeguarding. Visit Learning@Wales website.
Arrangements for responding where there are concerns people from Ukraine may be missing after their arrival in the UK
There will be cases when people from the Ukraine do not arrive at their intended destination. This advice sets out what to do in these circumstances. This includes action that may require the person(s) to be reported to the police as missing person(s).
The definition of a missing person is:
Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.
What to do if the people you are sponsoring do not arrive at your address as expected
In the event that the people from Ukraine that you are sponsoring are traveling to your address without you and they do not arrive as expected you should try and contact them to find out whether there is an explanation for their delay and when you can expect them to arrive.
You should make efforts to locate them in the way you might do if you were trying to make contact with a member of your family.
If you are unable to make contact with them you should phone the police on 101 and report them as missing. The police will need some information from you. They will need to know the last known location of the people you are reporting as missing and any information you have about their names, ages, gender and what they look like.
If you get any new information about the people from Ukraine or if they make contact with you and you have already reported them as missing to the police, you should contact the police again to update them as soon as possible.
If you receive any information that suggests anyone is at risk of immediate harm you must call the police on 999 straight away.
You should let your local authority know that you have reported someone as missing.
Modern slavery can affect people of all ages, gender and races and includes a range of different forms of exploitation. There were 479 Welsh referrals for victims of modern slavery in 2021. Over half of those referred were children, and around half were non-UK nationals from countries such as Albania, Sudan, and Eritrea.
There are four main types of modern slavery – labour exploitation, criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation, and domestic servitude. Read modern slavery awareness and victim identification guidance.
Support from your local authority
Your local authority is responsible for support like:
- registering children with local schools;
- providing advice on family support services, such as help with childcare costs
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes;
- working with local health boards to signpost advice and referral pathways to specialist public health services as appropriate, for example for vaccinations or TB screening. Advice on further support services such as initial stabilisation, counselling and mental health support, adult social care, and children’s services should be provided as needed.
- arranging local Jobcentre Plus appointments for benefit assessments, including for emergency payments while any benefits are being arranged
You should also try to help direct the person or family you are sponsoring to public services like schools and job centres. Additional guidance on how to access public services can be found on the gov.uk website.You may also want to share a link to the Welsh Government sanctuary website which is available in Ukrainian and provides information on rights, services, education and culture in Wales Sanctuary | Ukraine (gov.wales)
Support from the voluntary sector
The voluntary sector can provide a range of support for the person or family you are sponsoring, infoengine is the directory of third sector services in Wales provided by Third Sector Support Wales (CVCs & WCVA). It is a free platform that contains information about a wide variety of voluntary and community services that are able to provide help and support. Some of this support is delivered in partnership with the local authorities, health boards and other partners.
In addition, your local County Voluntary Council is a source of information and guidance about voluntary sector services that are available locally. You might also want to share these link with the person or family you are sponsoring.
What happens at the end of the sponsorship?
Sponsors are committed to hosting people from Ukraine for a minimum of six months, but you may choose to continue beyond the initial six months if you and the person or family you are sponsoring wish to. As mentioned previously, the ‘thank you payments’ stop after 12 months. People from Ukraine will be able to live and work in Wales for up to three years and access benefits, healthcare, employment, and other support.
If you don’t want to continue the arrangement beyond six months, you should let the person or family you are sponsoring know in plenty of time so they can make other arrangements. Sponsors should do this, at the very minimum, one month before the end of the six months.
People from Ukraine will have access to public funds and will be able to rent a property like anyone else. If they need to, they’ll be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit if they are over State Pension age. Rent Smart Wales has useful information on renting property which is available on the Rent Smart Wales website
What happens if the sponsorship breaks down?
If for any reason you need to end the sponsorship arrangement early, sponsors should inform the local authority as soon as possible. Further guidance on sharing your home with a lodger can be found on GOV.UK. A helpline has been launched for people arriving in Wales from Ukraine and for people who are acting as sponsors to provide advice and guidance. For callers in the UK, the number is: Freephone 0808 175 1508; for callers outside the UK, the number is: +44 (0)20 4542 5671. The helpline is available from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week
- The Homes for Ukraine website contains information about the scheme.
- The Welsh Government’s Sanctuary | Ukraine (gov.wales) website contains supporting information and is available in Ukrainian.
- Your local authority will provide information about what support they are providing in your area. Guidance on how to support the person or family you are sponsoring has also been issued to your local authority. See: Homes for Ukraine: guidance for local authorities.
- A helpline has been launched for people arriving in Wales from Ukraine and for people who are acting as sponsors to provide advice and guidance. For callers in the UK, the number is: Freephone 0808 175 1508; for callers outside the UK, the number is: +44 (0)20 4542 5671. The helpline is available from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.
Annex A: guidance on accommodation
All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for the person or family from Ukraine and that it is in a suitable condition. You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. Two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who did not previously know each other should not be given the same room.
Further to this we ask that accommodation:
- be kept clean and in a reasonable state;
- have adequate kitchen and bathroom space;
- have access to drinking water;
- have a working smoke detector on each floor of the property and other fire safety precautions suitable for the building e.g. fire doors or escape routes as appropriate (further information on making a home safe from fire can be found on GOV.UK);
- have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove);
- have sufficient heating to keep the property at a comfortable temperature;
- have safe gas appliances, fittings and flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year (see more information on HSE website);
- have safe and working electrics, which a qualified electrician can help with if you are unsure;
- be almost entirely free of damp or mould;
- have doors and windows at entry level that lock properly;
- be easy and safe to move around in, without excessively steep staircases that may cause harm.
Annex B: mental health support
Hywel Dda UHB
Cardiff & Vale UHB
Swansea Bay UHB
Cwm Taf UHB
Annex C: support services for people seeking sanctuary
Webpage and contact information
CALL Mental Health Helpline
Welsh Refugee Council (Wales)
Diverse Cymru (Wales)
The Sanctuary (Newport)
Displaced People in Action (Wales)
British Red Cross (Wales)
BAME Helpline Wales (Wales)
Trinity Centre (Cardiff)
Community Care and Wellbeing Service (Cardiff)
Wales Nation of Sanctuary UK Helpline
A helpline has been launched for people arriving in Wales from Ukraine and for people who are acting as sponsors to provide advice and guidance. For callers in the UK, the number is:
Freephone 0808 175 1508;
for callers outside the UK, the number is: +44 (0)20 4542 5671
The helpline is available from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week