Over 1,100 refugees made homeless in London as Homes for Ukraine placements come to end

Ukrainian Myroslava Ulianina now works with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea councils   (Lucy Young/ Evening Standard)
Ukrainian Myroslava Ulianina now works with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea councils (Lucy Young/ Evening Standard)

London councils have made a plea for volunteers to take in refugees as it was revealed more than 1,100 Ukrainian households had become homeless in the capital in the last year.

Thousands of UK sponsors agreed to house those fleeing the Russian invasion for a minimum of six months under the Government’s Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Others were able to come to Britain to join relatives as part of the Ukraine Family Scheme. More than 215,000 visas have been issued by the Government across the programmes.

But some local authorities are now seeing rising numbers of families presenting as homeless, as their Homes For Ukraine placements end and families struggle with rising costs, overcrowding and a shortage of rental properties.

Some 1,141 Ukrainian households have presented as homeless in London in the last year, according to Government figures, the vast majority with dependent children.

Georgia Gould, Chair of London Councils, said: “London has a long history of offering sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution, and boroughs have been proud to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the capital.

“However, London’s shortage of affordable housing makes it extremely hard to find suitable accommodation for everyone who needs it.

“Boroughs are working hard to ensure Ukrainian refugees avoid homelessness, but with the conflict continuing and London’s affordable housing shortage as severe as ever this challenge is not going away anytime soon.”

February 24 marked a year since the war in Ukraine began (AFP via Getty Images)
February 24 marked a year since the war in Ukraine began (AFP via Getty Images)

The government said town halls have a legal duty to “ensure no families are left without a roof over their heads”.

In London, Richmond has seen the highest number of families seeking help with housing at 135, followed by Wandsworth (115), Hillingdon (72) and Bromley (66).

Central London boroughs have also seen a large numbers coming forward with housing struggles.

Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea councils, which have jointly processed homelessness applications from 104 refugee households, has set up a Ukrainian branch of its Homelessness, Employment, Learning and Progression (HELP) scheme.

The boroughs are calling for more hosts to come forward. Myroslava Ulianina, a refugee herself, is assisting with the project.

The 34-year-old TV presenter and nutritionist was on holiday in Turkey when the war began. With only a small bag, packed for her week away Ms Ulianina fled to Portugal where she found refuge with a family for three months.

While there she received news that her flat in Kyiv had been destroyed. As a fluent English speaker she wanted to come to the UK and found a sponsor..

She has been staying with a family in Chelsea since June, but must find her own place to rent before April.

“Of course it is a change when you are living in an apartment in the very centre of Kyiv and being able to afford to live like that,” she told the Standard.

“And then here it is very different, very expensive. I am looking for somewhere for April now and it is hard, but I am hopeful. I love London and I hope to build business I had in Ukraine here.”

Ms Ulianina helps refugees with translation as well housing, education and job applications.

She added: “I want to say thank you from all of the Ukrainians for the huge support from the UK. The Homes for Ukraine Scheme was a huge opportunity.

“Now in the HELP team we are trying to provide a holistic approach now the scheme is coming to an end.

It is help people find housing, or what they need to build a life. We want to remove barriers so they know support is there.”

This week, 70 MPs, including former Home Secretary Priti Patel, wrote an open letter to the Department of Housing calling for more funding for Ukrainian resettlement schemes.

A government spokesman said all new arrivals could work and access benefits.