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War in Ukraine - BASW statement

Government scheme must be resourced and managed and appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place for children and adults to ensure the safety and welfare of all.

The Russian Government invaded Ukraine on 24th February 2022, which has resulted in needless loss of life and destruction, as well as millions of Ukrainians and others living in Ukraine fleeing their homes to escape the violence and seek refuge in another country.

This war directly impacts the people of Ukraine, but it is having wider repercussions. People are being displaced and are seeking refuge in other countries as a result. Social workers across Europe are playing a key part of supporting people in rebuilding their lives.

We are deeply concerned that there appears to be significant ongoing delays in Ukrainian refugees being offered safety in the UK. It took public pressure for the UK Government to develop an offer to the people fleeing Ukraine, and there is still a slow pace at providing the safety that people need. You can read the letter BASW sent to the Home Secretary on 11th March here.

In the UK, the Government has now set up the Homes for Ukraine scheme.  We are warmed by the number of people across Europe – including in the UK – who are volunteering to accommodate Ukrainian refugees in their homes and are in no doubt about the goodwill and capability that most will bring to this. This is an admirable and worthy act.  However, we are concerned about how the UK scheme will be resourced and managed, how people will be matched and how the welfare and social support of Ukrainians staying here over time will be addressed.

We strongly also urge the Government to ensure appropriate safeguarding arrangements are in place for children and adults to ensure the safety and welfare of all . While most volunteers have the best intentions the risk is that some will not or will find the arrangements do not work as well as hoped. Further, many people fleeing war will undoubtedly be traumatised and may have additional needs that do not become apparent until they arrive in the UK. Those providing support to refugees may need support themselves.

At this point, it is not known how many Ukrainian refugees will come to the UK. If many come – and we should be welcoming them with open arms - public services may be further stretched and the opportunity for us to play our proper role in this international crisis may be undermined. Proper planning and resourcing for local authorities and other services will ensure services are not  overwhelmed. This can support vital voluntary, community and statutory efforts.

An additional problem is that the scheme only supports Ukrainian passport holders. Many Ukrainians, like many people in the UK, will not have a passport, and many specific ethnic groups, for reasons of discrimination, such as the Roma, will be undocumented. We believe the UK should be playing its part in supporting those most marginalised and at risk in this war, as other countries are doing.

We also continue to ask the UK Government for vital support for those working in social work, health and welfare services in Ukraine and on the borders, many of whom will undoubtedly strive to keep humanitarian services available and support people least able to protect themselves during the conflict and in its aftermath.

Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, including social work colleagues in Ukraine, those in health and welfare services, and all those who have loved ones in Ukraine who will be understandably deeply worried.

This statement was drafted on information available as of 16 March 2022.

Homes for Ukraine

The Government scheme offers a route to those who have been forced to flee their homes because of the war in Ukraine to come to the UK.

Full details are on the Government website.

There are also a number of organisations and charities who are offering support to people interested in hosting a refugee family:

 

 

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