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South Cambs leads the country in hosting Ukraine families

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South Cambridgeshire District Council is the country’s top performer when it comes to hosting families from Ukraine.

“Ukraine families continue to settle into life in South Cambridgeshire thanks to a range of grant-funded activities organised by the district council,” says council leader Bridget Smith.

These include day trips, English classes, free laptops, books and bikes. 

Six months since the government launched its Homes For Ukraine scheme, the council remains the top district in the country for hosting families, with 808 visas issued and 720 guest arrived so far, since the government’s scheme began in March 2022. 

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The council has provided extensive support to families fleeing the war since March 2022 with the help of local partnerships including more than 340 items of free tech goods delivered such as 93 laptops, 77 Chromebooks, 52 mobile phones and 124 SIM cards.

In addition, hundreds of English lessons have been given plus day trips to help people integrate into life in a new country.

Cllr Bill Handley, Lead Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “It has been a huge operation to ensure the scheme has run smoothly in the first six months.

“Most of our hosts are willing and able to carry on but some are not and, in such cases, we are working hard to find alternative accommodation for the guests who are affected.

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“We are also looking ahead to how we can support guests at the 12 month point when many will move on from being hosted.

“This is likely to be an even bigger challenge and we hope residents, community groups and parish councils can continue to play their part to support wherever possible,”

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Cllr Smith said: “As a council we have acted swiftly to keep up with ongoing demand and are proud of the wide range of support we have managed to deliver in six months.

“We must continue to rise to the challenge with the help of our wonderful local communities and groups. Ukraine families continue to apply to live in our district to flee war in their country, so we hope more local residents will be able to offer a safe home for those in need.” 

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So far, the district council has helped facilitate a range of welcome initiatives to Ukraine families thanks to a one-off £300 grant scheme, which is still open to local groups. Some of the activities the grant has helped fund:  

  • A Woburn Safari Park trip for Ukrainian adults and children arranged by the Meldreth4Ukraine group. 
  • An outdoor event in Milton Park and a day trip to Thetford Forest organised by The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society. 
  • A coach to take guests to the Ukraine Independence Day Festival in Cheshunt arranged by The Rotary Club of Royston. 
  • An intensive English language programme arranged by OASSIS. 
  • English Lessons and books for Ukrainian Guests arranged by Fen Edge Homes. 

In addition to grants, the council has funded 80% of English language classes provided by The Cambridge Russian Speaking Society at St Andrews Baptist Church in Cambridge, totalling more than £18,000-worth of support.

The council’s communities team has been busy arranging a wide range of support with the help of local partners, including:  

  • More than 100 free English lessons in Waterbeach, Sawston, Cottenham and Cambridge. 
  • 346 items of free tech goods (93 laptops, 77 Chromebooks, 52 mobile phones and 124 SIM cards) including free delivery.
  • Free bikes, helmets, and bike locks. 
  • Six free Bikeability courses with more dates to be released soon. 
  • 113 free Botanic Garden Cambridge tickets. 

The council says it will continue to keep hosts and guests in South Cambridgeshire connected with regular bulletin updates and has established an online welcome pack for new arrivals, alongside a dedicated web page offering extensive information. 

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The council has also set up dedicated Facebook pages for Hosts and guests. and are due to launch a dedicated Facebook group for young people 

  • If you are interested in becoming a sponsor please email HFULiaison@scambs.gov.uk Hosts receive a £350 a month thank you payment and can apply for an opt-in additional £150, taking it to a total of £500 monthly.
  • To become a sponsor, you must be based in the UK with at least six months permission to be in the UK. You can be of any nationality. 
  • For more information please visit the council’s dedicated webpage

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