Homes for Ukraine – information for sponsors
If you've offered to be a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme you are playing an important role in providing safe, temporary homes to people in need of urgent sanctuary who are fleeing persecution, trauma, and conflict in Ukraine. Find information below for sponsors on what to expect.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme
If you have offered to be a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine scheme you should have submitted an expression of interest and/ or an application on the online system set up by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
You will only be contacted by DLUHC if you have applied, identifying the Ukrainian person(s) you wish to sponsor and have been formally matched on the system.
The Northern Ireland (NI) Executive does not have a role in the application process or the provision of visas and are unable to answer queries about the status of applications.
The UK Government is carrying out the required checks to issue visas under the scheme as quickly as possible. if you need any help, call the 24/7 free UK visa helpline +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 if you're in the UK).
If you cannot contact UK 0808 numbers, call +44 (0)175 390 7150.
If you submitted an expression of interest but did not know anyone and were unable to formally identify a person(s) to sponsor, the online system will not set up a match.
The UK Government designed the Homes for Ukraine scheme to allow people to offer accommodation for a minimum of six months and for that offer to be matched to people from Ukraine wanting to come to the UK.
The sponsor and person from Ukraine need to connect outside the system and nominate each other during the application process.
If you don't know someone from Ukraine, but still want to help ,there are a number of non-government organisations (NGOs), such as faith or non-faith based charities, linking sponsors with guests.
An organisation called RESET has been commissioned by the UK Government to help link people from Ukraine and sponsors who have no connections.
More information about the Homes for Ukraine Scheme is available at:
Pre-arrival and arrival
You will be given each other’s contact details and you are encouraged to make contact with the person(s) you are matched to sponsor.
You will need to find out more information about those due to arrive, including any specific needs and if, for example, they have pets they plan to bring.
There are specific pet travel arrangements in place to protect the general public and other animals from diseases which can be brought in to Northern Ireland by animals from overseas.
If they are travelling to Northern Ireland from Ukraine with non-commercial pets you should, where possible, pre-notify the DAERA authorities at the Northern Ireland Travellers Point of Entry via email. Find more information at:
Sponsors are encouraged to make arrangements to meet the person(s) you are sponsoring on arrival and bring them to your accommodation.
If this is not possible, you may wish to make alternative arrangements on their behalf, as they will not know the local area and will have already experienced very challenging journeys.
Translink are providing free onward travel on arrival for Ukrainian arrivals on any bus or rail service including cross-border with Republic of Ireland (ROI) (so will allow travel from Dublin on Enterprise or Ulsterbus).
Individuals will be required to show:
- a Ukrainian passport or Ukrainian Government issued ID
- proof of arrival in Ireland (north or south) within the previous seven days, such as an airline boarding pass, ferry ticket or confirmation email
There will be welcome points at airports with key information to signpost you to support.
Those arriving with a working bank card or cash card will be able to use them in the ATMS at your point of entry.
While it is estimated that about half of Ukrainians under 35 speak English, there are still likely to be language barriers and you may find it challenging when communicating with those who you may sponsor.
There are some useful tools including Google Translate and a range of picture communication charts online. You can translate nidirect into Ukrainian or Russian at the following link:
Interpretation services will be available in specific circumstances, for example, when refugees need to access health services, but these will not be available for everyday use in households.
People who have arrived in Northern Ireland from Ukraine who have limited or no English language skills can avail of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses.
As the safety of you and the person(s) you are sponsoring is of primary importance, there are a number of safeguarding checks. For the Homes for Ukraine scheme, this will include enhanced Access NI checks and a home visit.
A visa or permission to travel letter will be required to travel here and this will be subject to satisfactory checks on both the sponsor and the sponsored individual/ family.
As part of that process the equivalent of a standard Access NI check will be carried out before a authorisation to travel is issued.
Barnardo's and Extern are carrying out the home visits on behalf of government and will contact you in advance to make the arrangements for the home visit to take place. Do not contact Barnardo’s, Extern or the Department for Communities before they have communicated with you.
Sponsors and all adults in sponsors’ households will also be subject to initial Police National Computer (PNC), criminal records and Warnings Index checks by the Home Office.
You and those in your household may need to give written consent for some of the checks being carried out and this will be advised at the home visit.
It is important that you co-operate where required, recognising that they are in the interests of everyone’s safety.
In terms of home requirements, all accommodation will be different, however, accommodation needs to be free from health and safety hazards.
You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition and can accommodate those you are sponsoring.
In some cases, you’ll need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they’ve got any policies which you need to factor in.
It’s important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before your guest arrives.
Insurers have agreed, that for homeowners accommodating Ukrainian Nationals in their home, there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that they are accommodated as non-paying guests.
In other situations, including where the sponsor is a landlord or a tenant, you will need to contact your insurer.
Lenders have committed to allow as many borrowers as possible to take part in the scheme. If you have a mortgage on the property you will need to contact your mortgage lender. Work is ongoing 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’s and insurer’s websites, where further advice will be available as soon as possible.
You cannot charge the person(s) you are sponsoring rent, but in recognition of people’s generosity and knowing that there will be costs associated with helping out, the UK Government is offering an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month to sponsors who accommodate Ukrainian refugees.
The thank you payment is limited to one payment per residential address, regardless of the number of guests being hosted, size or location of the property. This payment will be made in arrears and you will continue to receive payments for as long as you sponsor somebody for up to 12 months.
You will be eligible to apply for this payment once an initial home visit confirming the standard of your accommodation is complete, safeguarding checks have been completed and your guest has arrived.
Payments will only be issued to the named lead sponsor where it is confirmed that you have passed the necessary property and safeguarding checks.
The Government are developing an application portal for these monthly payments and sponsors will be contacted when it is confirmed all checks are completed. More information will be provided when available.
For sponsors who receive welfare payments, ‘thank you’ payments will not affect your benefit entitlement.
If your guest moves out of your home for any reason, you must inform your Government (Make the Call Team on 0800 232 1271) at the earliest opportunity as you will need to let them know that you are no longer eligible for the monthly payments.
You won’t be expected to provide meals or pay for living expenses, although there’s nothing stopping you, if you wish.
You cannot force anyone who is staying with you to work for you, either within your home or at a business that you own.
Dealing with difficulties
It is unknown how long the crisis in Ukraine will last and what the next few months will bring.
Whilst it is expected, and the requirement when expressing an interest to sponsor, is that sponsorship will be for a period of at least six months, it is recognised that your circumstances may change or relationships may break down during or after the six month period.
Occasionally things do go wrong and if they do, it may be something simple that can be resolved. Support will be available to you as a sponsor and to those who have arrived throughout the stay.
A system of locally-based support workers and volunteers is being established to help and advise both the refugees and you as the sponsor.
If, however, you decide you can no longer act as a sponsor or the person(s) you are sponsoring decide to leave at any point, you should contact the Make the Call Team on 0800 232 1271. It is important that you tell the team as soon as possible so that safety checks can be carried out.
If there is an immediate need to secure urgent alternative accommodation for the person(s) you are sponsoring you can also call the NIHE emergency number on:
- 03448 920 900 (during office hours)
- 03448 920 908 if after 5.00 pm Monday to Friday or at the weekends
If the person/ family you have sponsored have moved on and the sponsorship arrangement has ended, the monthly thank you payment of £350 will be stopped.
Ukrainian people on this scheme have access to public funds during their time in NI, and at the end of their sponsorship will be able to rent a property.
Although the requirement for initial sponsorship is six months, that is not a long time for the person(s) you are hosting to save money and secure alternative accommodation, so you should consider whether you would be prepared to offer the sponsorship for up to one year.
If you feel six months is the maximum you can provide, you should aim to give two months’ notice of this, so there is time for alternative arrangements to be made.
There will be an arrangement to place refugees with other sponsors after six months if that is needed.
No-one will be sent back to Ukraine.
Ukraine assistance centres have been set up to help support people when they first arrive.
They will offer key information for people before being accommodated by their sponsor.
If required, they may offer temporary accommodation for those with no advance accommodation in place.
Further information is available at:
Access to services
Individuals arriving under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme are unlikely to know Northern Ireland and they will have very little understanding of how things work and where to go to access services.
They will be granted a visa to remain in the UK for three years and will be able to work and access benefits and public services including healthcare and education.
More information can be found at the links below:
- Banking and getting a National Insurance number
- Ukrainian nationals: applying for benefits
- Ukrainian nationals: accessing health care
- Ukrainian nationals: education and childcare
- English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
The role sponsors can play in making those they are hosting feel as welcome as possible and practical tips for supporting them are included in the sponsors information pack available at:
Other organisations, such as the No Accomodation Network (NACCOM) and RESET have developed resources to support individuals who have decided to help people fleeing Ukraine.
NACCOM has launched a hosting ‘good practice’ guide to help individuals and organisations who are interested in getting involved in hosting individuals.
RESET has developed a toolkit and resources to give sponsors an outline of the support that might be needed if you are considering welcoming refugees through the Homes for Ukraine programme.