People housing Ukrainian refugees in Wales say “we’ve just been left alone”
Hosts in Wales have welcomed the increase in financial support from the Welsh Government – but say they need more practical help.
The Welsh government announced in its budget that hosts will receive more money, with monthly payments increasing from £350 to £500 in April.
But hosts often help their refugees with complicated paperwork, such as visa applications or finding alternative housing.
6,500 Ukrainians have moved to Wales since the Russian invasion. Eifion Weinzeig houses a Ukrainian family in Bridgend. He says that the council hasn’t done anything to help hosts with practical difficulties and believes there should be more support.
‘We’ve done everything we can to help them. We are asked by the family all the time – how do I get an MOT? How do I register my vehicle to be in the UK? – I haven’t a clue! But I’ll go and find out and get it done’, Eifion said, ‘We haven’t had anything. We’ve just been left alone.’
Eifion volunteers with the South Wales Sponsorship for Ukraine, a support group that have housed around 1,200 refugees.
Sarah Shuffell also volunteers with the group and helps to match refugees with the right home. She says the increase will be a good incentive to get people to volunteer as hosts.
‘It’s needed and for some people that can make a real difference,’ she said. ‘I do think it’s important and they probably strategically upped the payment a bit to encourage people to host for longer.’
Juliet Grover has been hosting a family of four since August. She agrees that being a host is expensive and welcomes the financial support but says it isn’t enough. The administrative support she has given to the family has caused a lot of stress and believes that advice should be more readily available.
‘Its hard, its really really hard and daunting’ Juliet said. ‘You feel like you’re being a support but there is nobody to support you so it is very difficult’.
The Welsh government is unable to comment further at this stage – but said in a statement it ‘recognises the enormity of hosts’ huge contribution as well as the impact the unprecedented cost of living crisis is having’ .