Most Britons think housing Ukrainian refugees is a good thing, study shows

<span>Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

Eight in ten people in the UK who took in Ukrainians fleeing the war said they had a positive experience of hosting the refugees, while most of the public think the UK should continue to take in people from war zones, according to a study.

Detailed polling from More in Common, a civil society organisation, found that 88% of people who took in refugees from Ukraine would do so again, while just 3% said they would not.

It also found that 68% of Britons believe the fact that the UK has taken in more than 150,000 refugees from Ukraine is a good thing, and only 17% think it is a bad thing.

The findings come amid controversy over Rishi Sunak’s policy of detaining and deporting refugees who try to cross the Channel in small boats. Sunak has made stopping the boats a political priority because of a belief that UK voters want an end to people entering the UK in this way, despite the lack of alternative safe and legal routes for refugees to come to Britain.

The More in Common study found that hosts rated their overall experience of the Homes for Ukraine scheme at 7.72 out of 10, and how they got on with their Ukrainian guests at 8.43.

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It found many hosts were willing to support guests from other countries, with three in 10 hosts saying they would support an Afghan refugee currently in hotel accommodation, and seven in 10 hosts ready to house a refugee again, saying they were open to supporting either an Afghan or Ukrainian refugee.

However, they were less positive about support from the government, rating it at 5.04 out of 10, and they rated interactions with the local council after the refugee had arrived at 5.86.

“When our guest arrived, we had to work everything out ourselves – bank, GP, jobcentre, biometric visa, etc. Luckily we had the time and resources, but it was still a lot. It does feel like our council … for all their best efforts, are always several steps behind what hosts and guests need,” one respondent said.

Some of the hosts found challenges in the experience, including helping people with trauma, cultural differences such as the language barrier or different food habits, and getting access to services such as a dentist for their guests.

But many of the comments among those who hosted were positive, with one host saying: “It’s been hard. But to see the little girl playing in the garden when there’s war going on in her home country and seeing her thriving here will stay with me for ever.”

Luke Tryl, the UK director of More In Common, said: “The Homes for Ukraine scheme shows Britain at its absolute best. Across the country, tens of thousands of ordinary members of the public have stepped up to offer their home to those fleeing conflict – a far cry from the divisive, polarising debates about immigration and refugees we have heard over the past week.

“As this research shows, for the overwhelming majority of hosts, over 95% of whom had never been involved in supporting refugees before, the experience has been an immensely positive and enriching one. Despite the natural ups and downs of sharing their houses with strangers, hosts are proud to have done their bit and many would do so again.

“The priority now must be to make sure that their good will is not abused and that Ukrainian families who understandably want to find their own space and housing are given the support they need from the government to do so.”