Ukraine one year on: Almost two dozen homeless refugees in Islington

Almost two dozen Ukrainian refugee households were homeless or at risk of homelessness in Islington, new figures show.

By Will Grimond, Data Reporter

Ukrainian flags are flown following Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Photo: RADAR

Friday, February 24 marks a year since Russia invaded Ukraine – displacing millions of people living in the country.

The UK has taken in more than 160,000 Ukrainians fleeing the conflict – but many now face homelessness as arrangements break down.

Figures from the Home Office show 21 households had received homeless duties in Islington as of January 27 – including 14 families with dependent children.

This was the same as in November, the last time figures were published.

The figures show four households became homeless after the arrangement with their host broke down, while 17 did so because their accommodation was not suitable on arrival.

It was a different story across England, where just under 4,300 Ukrainian households had presented as homeless as of January – an increase of 44% from nearly 3,000 in November.

Duties are provided by the local council when a person or family is judged to be at risk of homelessness, or has already lost their home.

Refugees from the war have been invited to stay in the UK under the Ukrainian Sponsorship and Family schemes.

The former sets up refugees with hosts in the UK for an initial six months, who receive support from their local council and a stipend of £350.

In December, the Government raised these payments to £500 for those with guests who have been in the UK for longer than a year.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council charity, said it was heartening to see so many people open their doors to people fleeing the conflict, but added it was “worrying” refugees are facing homelessness.

He said: “These are people who have endured unimaginable trauma fleeing war in their homeland, and they must have a place to call home to help them heal and rebuild their lives.

“It’s vital that they are now supported to find their own homes in our local communities.”

Separate figures from the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme show 507 visas had been granted for refugees to stay with sponsors in Islington as of February 14 – 407 of which had arrived in the country.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which represents councils across England, said they need “urgent solutions” to the housing needs of refugees.

They said: “We have been raising concerns with Government on the growing number of Ukrainians presenting as homeless to councils, and in particular the significant rise in those who arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Where a sponsorship breaks down, councils have a duty to ensure families are not left without a roof over their head.

“We have provided them with extensive funding including an addition £150 million to support Ukrainian guests to move into their own homes, as well £500 million to acquire housing for those fleeing conflict.”

“All Ukrainian arrivals can work or study and access benefits from day one,” they added.

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