Two years on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, East Hampshire District Council is continuing to support Ukrainian guests and the East Hampshire residents who have opened their homes to them.

Since the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, East Hampshire District Council has welcomed 492 guests from 232 families to East Hampshire, the second highest total in Hampshire.

It currently has 91 active hosts in East Hampshire accommodating 162 guests. In total Hampshire has 700 active hosts, and 3,495 guests have arrived since the launch of the scheme.

The council has employed a Ukraine-focused community project officer, housing adviser and, in partnership with Two Saints, community support worker.

The housing adviser and community support worker speak Ukrainian and work with families to support guests to move from host houses into their own privately rented homes, helping with school admissions and setting up bills.

In May and June last year, community events in Alton and Petersfield were attended by 155 guests and 27 organisations participated.

A host recruitment campaign in the summer generated 14 expressions of interest, and a children’s event held in association with Everyone Active on September 30 attracted 29 children aged between 18 months and 13 years old. It aimed to bring together Ukrainian children and parents for a relaxed social occasion.

There were also weekly yoga classes, organised through the Get Up and Go programme, in Petersfield for Ukrainian adults.

The council bought seven homes for Ukrainian families, plus one for refugees from Afghanistan, using government grants. These will ultimately be used for those in the district who need homes.

The council has worked in partnership with several local organisations to ensure families have access to English language lessons, employment opportunities and local activities, as well as support with applying for universal credit and benefits.

This year it will continue its support and will shortly send out a survey for guests and hosts to give their views on what they want to see supported in 2024, as well as running further children’s events based on the success of last year.

Cllr Adeel Shah said: “Saturday was an anniversary that none of us wanted to commemorate.

“It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be uprooted from your home and forced to leave with all you can carry, to live in an unfamiliar country for two years, worrying about friends and family that you may have left behind.

“East Hampshire District Council will continue to support refugees from all backgrounds, and the people who have made them welcome in the district, in every way that we can.”

All Homes for Ukraine hosts will receive monthly payments from Hampshire County Council until al least March 2025.

Anyone thinking of becoming a host, or existing hosts who would like further support for themselves and their guests, should email [email protected] for more information or assistance.