Mother and child from Ukraine

Supporting refugees from Ukraine

More is needed from the government to ensure all refugees have access to the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Barnardo’s has a long history of helping people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Our most recent support to families from Ukraine, over the past 6 months, builds on our significant experience of supporting refugees arriving from Afghanistan and Syria through a range of services. This support includes providing a range of holistic services, such as a bespoke helpline, therapeutic support with a qualified psychotherapist, help through our Family Support Services, a Scotland-wide welcome service to help families with practical support and delivering home visits to Ukrainian guests on behalf of the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.

However, this support is not enough to provide people who flee their homes with everything they need to rebuild their lives. Our latest report identifies what the government needs to do to provide people with all the support that they need.

I had someone to talk to, someone who was willing to listen to me, because I never feel people want to listen to me. I feel stronger now and I wish everyone would listen to me like you have.

Quote from a Ukrainian caller to the Helpline

In a field, a father kneels down to explain something serious to his two children, a boy and girl

What does the latest evidence show?

  • Children arriving from Ukraine have often suffered trauma and loss and are in need of specialist support. Governments across the UK must therefore urgently focus on child protection and safeguarding, access to food, clothing and education, supporting mental and physical wellbeing including trauma, and the needs of unaccompanied children who require care.
  • 19% of hosts intend to provide accommodation only for the initially agreed period of six months, meaning over 15,000 Ukrainian refugees will likely need to find alternative accommodation in the near future which will risk undoing much work to find nursery, school and employment places, alongside the roots Ukrainians have started to build in their local communities.
  • With asylum seekers and refugees already reporting, through our Helpline and family support services, a lack of access to basic amenities and practical support, the cost-of living crisis is only going to further push the most vulnerable individuals who have faced war and trauma into homelessness and poverty.
  • Seven in ten previous or current UK hosts of Ukrainian refugees under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme say their ability to provide support has been curbed by the cost-of-living crisis. Almost all current or previous hosts (99%) said they had incurred additional costs as a result of hosting. This is further adding to the significant risk that, many Ukrainian refugees will be forced to present as homeless, with many hosts being unable to afford to house them.

What needs to happen?

Our recommendations to the UK Government centre around them acting swiftly to ensure all refugees have access to support to address their trauma and access to education, training, and suitable, long-term housing. They include:

  • Accommodation: We urge the UK Government to act swiftly to ensure that all refugees have access to long-term, safe, and suitable accommodation.
  • Safeguarding: Safeguarding should be at the heart of the rules and guidance setting out the details of how the extension of Homes for Ukraine will operate in practice.
  • Specialist foster care: There is a need to recruit and mobilise new foster carers with specialist skills to support refugee and asylum seeking children who have experienced deep trauma. 
  • Continuity for families: If families are moved to alternative efforts should be made to ensure there is consistency in childcare, schooling and healthcare.
  • A consistent approach: All refugee and asylum-seeking families and children we are supporting need support to address their trauma and to access education, training, and suitable housing, regardless of their nationality.
  • Do you need support?

    If you have left Ukraine and need support you can call our helpline for help and advice.

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    Help us provide the most vulnerable people with the support they need.

  • What we do

    Learn more about how we support children, young people and their families across the UK.