Advice and guidance

London Borough of Bexley is welcoming Ukrainian nationals through the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Coffee Morning hosted by Blackfen Community Library

Thursdays 10.30am to 11.30am at Blackfen Community Library and Rooted Coffee House, 7-9 Blackfen Road, Sidcup DA15 9LU.

Are you new to the area or do you know someone who is?

If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker and you don’t know many other people yet or you want to meet up with other people in the same situation as yourself, come along to Rooted Coffee House in Blackfen Community Library and make some new friends.

Free tea and coffee.

More information about Blackfen Community Library

Information for refugees

Financial support and finding a job

Ukrainian guests are entitled to a one off £200 payment to help with immediate costs. Full details of eligibility for this payment (e.g. payments for children and babies) are being decided by the Government.

If you have arrived in the UK with a Ukrainian Family Visa, you are not entitled to the £200 payment.

You are entitled to work while you are living in the UK. Before you can start work, you need to apply for a National Insurance number. If you are unable to find a job straight away, or need additional financial support, you are eligible to apply for benefits immediately. Find out what support is available to you.

A local Jobcentre Plus, can also help you find employment and assess you for financial benefits.

Bexley Business & Employment is our employment service that can offer support, advice, guidance and training, and can help you find a job with a local employer. Re-instate can also provide support with CV building, job searching, interview coaching as well as offer access to IT equipment, training, volunteering and paid employment opportunities.

English as a second language classes are available at the Learning & Enterprise College Bexley.

Guidance for claiming Child Benefit 

Anyone coming to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme or Homes for Ukraine scheme is entitled to claim Child Benefit immediately, rather than having to wait for the usual 3-month qualifying period.

People who wish to claim should complete a CH2 Child Benefit claim form and submit this by post to the Child Benefit office. The address is included on the form.

They should provide an original birth certificate and the passport or travel document used to enter the UK. Where this documentation is not immediately available, people are advised to include a note in their claim and someone from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will be in touch to discuss further.

Anyone wanting more information on Child Benefit can visit GOV.​UK or call 0300 200 3100 (from inside the UK).

Education and support for children

Any child under 18 will be entitled to enrol in a local school. You will receive support to enrol in a school, but you can find out more information about the process here:

Language training

Learning & Enterprise College Bexley (LECB)

Learning & Enterprise College Bexley (LECB) offers free English (ESOL) courses at their Brampton Road campus for Ukrainians who have recently arrived to the UK. We offer Pre-Entry and Entry 1-3 level courses. These courses cater for mixed ability learners including those who have little or no English.

To join the course you need to do the initial assessment so that we can find the right class for you.

Booking your initial assessment

You can book by:

Next initial assessment dates

  • Friday 13 May at 9:30am
  • Wednesday 18 May at 3pm
  • Friday 20 May at 9:30am & at 1:30pm
  • Wednesday 25 May at 1pm
  • Friday 27 May at 9:30am
  • Wednesday 8 June at 10am & at 3pm
  • Friday 10 June at 10am & at 1pm
  • Wednesday 15 June at 1pm
  • Friday 17 June at 9:30am & at 3:30pm
  • Wednesday 22 June at 10am
  • Friday 24 June at 11am
  • Wednesday 29 June at 1pm
  • Friday 1 July at 10am & at 1pm
Groundwork - Together South Programme

Together South works to support refugees and non-EU migrants in South London, helping them to connect with and thrive in their communities by providing English language lessons, employment advice and community activities.

Find out more about the programme

Christ the King Sixth Forms

Christ the King Sixth Forms are delighted that they will be offering a Community Learning Programme for Ukraine students.

This is open to students in years 11, 12 or 13. This will take place each Wednesday from 1pm to 4pm at our St Mary’s (Sidcup) and Emmanuel (Lewisham) CTK sites.

Students will have the opportunity to study English and gain advice and guidance regarding future progression options ready for September. Each student is asked to complete the attached form (PDF), with just a bit of basic information.

Please do not hesitate to contact Martin Carroll by phone on 020 8297 9433 or by email at admissions@ctksfc.ac.uk if you have students who are interested.

Healthcare

You will have access to free health care while in the UK, via the local National Health Service (NHS).

Accessing healthcare

The first thing you should do is register with a local GP. GP surgeries are usually the first contact if you have a health problem. They can treat many conditions and give health advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services, including mental health.

Health and wellbeing support services are available to you locally. If you have serious concerns about your mental health you should contact your GP.

Get a COVID-19 vaccine

Everyone living in the UK aged 12 and over, and some children aged 5 to 11, can get a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a booster dose.

Find out how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Find out more COVID-19 guidance in the UK and other local information.

Information for hosts

The generosity of the British public has been celebrated in the media and the government has expressed their delight that so many have come forward to support refugees under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

As of 20 April, 39,300 Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme visas had been issued and nearly 7,000 Sponsorship Scheme visa-holders had arrived in the UK, with many more expected in the coming weeks.

This is wonderful news, but it is just the beginning of the journey. As an agency with some experience of training those who support refugees in a range of contexts, we thought it might be helpful if we offered some insights to host families - and those supporting them.

So we address this to all of you who are hosting - and supporters of hosts

It may be that when you saw families fleeing Ukraine on your screens, your heart went out to them as you imagined what they were going through. Perhaps you thought that once they were safely in Britain, they would recover from their terrible ordeal - and you would help them to get on with their lives.

The reality may prove somewhat different

The war is still going on and some refugees’ trauma might be deepened at any time by a news bulletin or a message from home. The impact of this ongoing trauma for those living in a culture not their own, communicating in an unfamiliar language, may threaten to overwhelm even the strongest characters. We see that some Ukrainian families deal with this terrifying situation by holding on to whatever normality they can, proving to themselves and others that they are coping. So they may want to keep to their routines, trying to do things their way - whether it’s eating a meal late in the evening or scouring the shops for familiar foods.  In some ways the ideal living arrangement for many refugee families is likely to be more house-share than host and guest - but that parallel living may not be practical in your home. So, do ask at the outset about mealtimes and other routines, particularly for their children, so that there can be some collaborative planning and compromise, if necessary.

Those of you who pick up on your guests’ trauma may struggle emotionally yourselves; how do you deal with the stress of witnessing human suffering? Are you able to stay resilient, knowing that this is not your suffering but theirs and you are doing all you can to help? You may need to take ‘time out’ sometimes and do whatever it is that relaxes you (walking the dog, visiting a friend, some retail therapy - or join a Facebook group and talk with other hosts who might have similar experiences to yours).

If you are the sort of empathic person who is good at listening, then, by all means, make it clear to your Ukrainian guests that you are available and happy to listen - but put no pressure on them to share. It may be that they feel that the only way that they can hold their family safe and hang on to sanity is by keeping everything to themselves at this stage.

If you are still in the honeymoon period, where everyone is trying incredibly hard to be accommodating and meet each other’s expectations, the little issues and niggles which might compromise harmony in the home may well not have emerged. To avoid them happening, it might be helpful to draw up a guide to life in your home; such a guide might include, for example, the wi-fi password, what to do in an emergency, the time at night when your house is silent so that people can sleep, any necessary routines around using the bathroom, saving electricity etc.

Again, if you know of areas of potential tension early on, a hospitality breakdown is less likely to occur. What follows is in no particular order:

  • you are likely to have less quality time with your partner - if you have one - and your children may not want to share their toys or their space with another child. Be prepared for this and - regarding your children - negotiate in ways that are age-appropriate to reassure them of your love and attention.
  • you may well have underestimated the amount of responsibility you will need to take on and the time that is needed - for example, arranging schools, registering with a doctor etc.
  • Ukrainian culture doesn’t value ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ to the same degree that British culture does. So, requests may come across as quite brusque - ‘I want this,’ rather than, ‘Please may I have this’. It is not intentional - just a cultural difference.
  • it will be vital for refugees to maintain contact with family and friends they have left behind. So a key requirement for them is going to be reliable wi-fi.
  • Ukrainian women who have left partners behind are likely to want to be in a location where there is the prospect of work so they can earn money and support their family back in Ukraine. This may be difficult if you live in a rural area and may perhaps cause tension if work is in short supply.
  • if the person you are hosting does get a job, you might find it helpful to ask at the outset what they plan to do about childcare during school holidays etc? Can you offer advice or help them to access child care services?
  • while 7% of the adult population in Britain have been fully covid-vaccinated, the figure for Ukraine in January this year was 44.9%. If this concerns you, address the matter early on.
  • Ukrainian refugees may not be able to return home for years. The current provision allows for them to stay here for three years and, during that time, to have free access to healthcare, education, benefits and employment support. Some members of the community may become unhappy at longer-than-expected demands on local resources, particularly if Britain continues in economic crisis. This may not be your mindset at all, but if you have thought about it, you will be better prepared should you encounter a different response in your community.
Getting in contact

Should you want further information on any of the above, or would like to commission training for host families, please contact AC Education by:

Support from charities and organisations

Many organisations are offering support and assistance with the aim to help you settle into life in Bexley.

Find out what support is available in Bexley

Support for vulnerable adults

Adult Social Care can help people who are elderly or have disabilities. They can also help you connect with local neighbourhood groups, and services such as libraries and health services.

They can also help you if you look after someone else.

When you contact Adult Social Care, they will carry out an assessment to find out what you need. They will also carry out a financial assessment to see if you have to pay anything.

Adult Social Care can help arrange for someone to come into your home to look after you. They can also arrange for a place in a care home. They can get specialist equipment to help you live in your home. They can give support and advice to people with physical or learning disabilities, or people with sensory disabilities.

Find out more about Adult Social Care.

Safeguarding

If you have any concerns about the safety or well being of any guest, please contact:

Concerns about a child

Call Children’s Services at the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 3045 5440 and speak to a social worker. If you’re worried you’ll be put in a difficult position, you can speak to them anonymously. The opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

If it’s out of hours, call 020 8303 7777 or 020 8303 7171.

Concerns about an adult

If you suspect someone you know is at risk, you must tell someone.

If they’re in immediate physical danger, call 999.

If not, call us on 020 8303 7777 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm) and ask for ‘screeners’ or email screeners@bexley.gov.uk

We’ll ask you to give us as much detail as possible and decide what to do - usually within two days.

We’ll try to update you on what happens next, but we can’t always share personal information with you. Just know that we’ll always put the best interests of the vulnerable person first.

Police and safety

You can contact the Police by calling 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency).

There is support available if you need help for the following:

Living in Bexley

Bexley is a great place to live, with plenty to do locally.

Discover Bexley

If you would like to explore the rest of London, find out more about public transport options with Transport for London (TfL).

Support services

Following discussion with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Barnado’s have set up the Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service. The Helpline is available to anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Mental health

ThriveLDN has produced a range of resources for volunteers and professionals to help them support the mental health and well-being of displaced Ukrainians.

Re-instate can also offer a range of mental health support for arriving Ukrainians.

Red Cross

Guidance and Support from NatWest bank

Supporting Ukrainian Refugees to open a bank account in the UK by NatWest

NatWest Bank designed a dedicated account opening journey for Ukrainian refugees that will enable them to effortlessly open a bank account. A new dedicated webpage has been created to give Ukrainian refugees the information they need to support their application, including translated guidance in Ukrainian and Russian. 

Users can either print an application form directly from the above web page, or they can collect one from their local branch.

I’m a resident and am thinking of signing up for the Homes for Ukrainians Scheme

Thank you for your interest in helping Ukrainian refugees. If you are thinking of signing up to host a refugee and their family, please let us know by emailing Homesforukrainians@bexley.gov.uk. Please also let us know how many people you think you could accommodate. We are finding that some of the matches already made are not suitable (often because the property offered is not large enough for the family to be hosted) and we are keen to try and find new hosts for these families.

There is guidance for hosts (referred to as sponsors by the Government) at Homes for Ukraine: sponsor guidance. This document explains what is expected and the checks that will be carried out.

Sign up for the scheme

Citizens Advice provide information if you would like to offer to let someone from Ukraine stay with you.

I’m from an organisation or network and wish to help

If you are from an organisation, please let us have your contact details and some information about the sort of help that you may be able to offer. We will be publishing information about the support available on our website.