Welcoming Ukrainian guests to East Sussex

An information pack for hosts

Thank you very much for offering to share your home with refugees from the war in Ukraine. Your kindness and generosity will help people find a safe, welcoming refuge when they most need one.

More than 1,227 Ukraine refugees are now being hosted in East Sussex.

We can promise that all of us who provide public services in East Sussex are doing everything possible to support you and your guests. We’re also working with voluntary groups. Together we can ensure our county offers both practical help and a warm welcome to Ukrainians when they need them most.

The aim of this guide is to share information and advice that you and your guests may find useful.

If you’re expecting guests to arrive and you haven’t already done so, please fill out our arrivals form to tell us when your guests arrived or will arrive.


Healthcare

Registering with a doctor - a general practitioner (GP)

One of the first things we’d strongly recommend is that you help your guests register with a local GP.  Ukrainian arrivals are entitled to full NHS care and treatment and do not need proof of address, immigration status or an NHS number to register with a GP. (They may be asked to provide ID but it’s not a requirement.)

The GP is likely to be their first point of contact for many physical and mental health concerns and can refer people for more specialised hospital services when needed.

There are 54 GP practices in East Sussex. For the full list see Our practices - NHS East Sussex CCG

For more information about registering with a GP see How to register with a GP surgery

Emergency and urgent treatment

If you or someone you care for are feeling unwell, please phone 111 first. You’ll get advice on where to go for treatment and you might be directed to an emergency department or urgent treatment centre.

Phone 999 if you, or anyone you live with has symptoms of a serious illness or injury such as a heart attack, severe pain, stroke or severe bleeding.

Emergency departments in East Sussex

  • Conquest Hospital
    The Ridge
    St Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 7RD
    Phone: 0300 131 4500
  • Eastbourne District General Hospital
    Kings Drive
    Eastbourne, BN21 2UD
    Phone: 0300 131 4500

Emergency departments close to East Sussex

  • Royal Sussex County Hospital
    Eastern Road
    Brighton,  BN2 5BE
    Phone: 01273 696955
  • Tunbridge Wells Hospital
    Tonbridge Road, Pembury, TN2 4QJ
    Phone: 01892 823535 

Minor injury units in East Sussex

For treatment of less severe injuries or illnesses. 

  • Crowborough War Memorial Hospital
    Southview Road, Crowborough, TN6 1HB
    Phone: 01892 652284
  • Lewes Victoria Hospital
    Nevill Rd, Lewes, BN7 1PE
    Phone: 01273 474153
  • Uckfield Community Hospital
    Framfield Road, Uckfield, TN22 5AW
    Phone: 01825 769999

The hospital and community health services in East Sussex are provided by East Sussex Healthcare Trust.

Please see their website for a full list of services and more information:
Our services – East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Mental health support

Mental health services in East Sussex are provided by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT).

They have produced a guide on emotional support for refugees:
Emotional support for refugees - Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

We know that the traumatic events of war may have a deep and lasting effect on refugees, including children.

Anyone who lives in East Sussex, you can call this number to discuss their feelings and reactions and to consider next steps. 0300 00 30 130

You can also talk to your GP about mental health issues. If  you prefer not to, there are free telephone services where you can speak to a trained advisor:

  • Lifeline: 0808 808 8000 - (Textphone: 18001 0808 808 8000)
  • Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 - to talk to a trained volunteer

For more information on managing trauma, published in English, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, see Free Ukrainian, Polish, And Russian Translations Of Trauma And PTSD Psychoeducational Resources - Psychology Tools

The SafeREFUGE campaign provides free resources for refugees and hosts on trauma recovery from humanitarian crisis.
SafeREFUGE – VITA Network (vita-network.com)

Maternity and birth care

Arrivals who are pregnant, or become pregnant, should let their GP know as soon as possible. The GP, or midwives, will arrange pre-birth checks and personalised care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.  

They are also entitled to support from a health visitor. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training to help mothers, their family and children up to the age of 5 years to stay healthy.

Dentistry

Dental treatment is available on both an NHS and private basis. Not all dentists accept NHS patients.

The NHS website offers a Find a Dentist search.

In the most urgent situations, emergency dental treatment is available in East Sussex, but an appointment will only be offered after a telephone assessment to verify the case is a priority.

For more on emergency dental services, please see Emergency Dental Service.

Vaccinations against Covid-19 and other infections

The UK government suggests that only about one in 3 Ukrainian citizens have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and very few have had boosters. The most commonly used vaccine in Ukraine is Coronavac, which is acceptable,  but not available, in this country.

Your guests may like to take up free Covid vaccinations in East Sussex once registered with a GP.

For more on ways to book vaccinations and boosters locally, please see COVID-19 vaccinations.

Other NHS vaccinations are also free to everyone and give the best protection to children and adults against infectious diseases such as meningitis, mumps, measles, and rubella. GPs can help arrange vaccinations.

Translated, trusted information about vaccination and other healthcare issues can be found on the Doctors of the World website, Translated health information for patients.


Keeping people safe

Safeguarding is everyone’s business. It is important that we are watchful and alert to any signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

To help you know what action to take if you are worried about an adult or child during their stay with you, please see the guidance under the Homes for Ukraine 2022 section of this site.

Guidance and Resources - East Sussex SAB

The document Guidance on Raising Concerns about Abuse and Neglect contains information on signs and indicators of abuse and neglect and what should be reported as a safeguarding concern.

Safety of adults

If you have a concern about an adult at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, you should:

Safety of children and teenagers

If you are worried about a child or teenager who might be at risk of harm, you should:

  • In an emergency call 999.
  • Phone: Single Point of Advice (SPoA) on 01323 464 222 - Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm. This service is run by East Sussex County Council.
  • Out of office hours, if you have a serious concern about a child’s welfare that cannot wait until the following working day, phone our Emergency Duty Service on:
    01273 335 906 or 01273 335 905 - from 5pm to 8.30am (after 4.30pm on Fridays) and during the weekends and bank holidays. This out of hours service covers East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
  • Make a report online at Worried about a child or teenager who might be at risk or in danger?

Exploitation and modern slavery

People seeking sanctuary from the war in Ukraine must be able to move safely without the risk of exploitation. If you are looking for support, the campaign ‘Travel Safe, Stay Safe’ has information in Ukrainian, Russian and English. Ukraine Support and Updates » STOP THE TRAFFIK

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority also has a number of useful resources that can be found here: Resources - Videos - Leaflets - Labour exploitation - GLAA


Money, banking, benefits and work

Support through Homes for Ukraine

Guests arriving through the Homes for Ukraine scheme are entitled to a range of benefits and services.

As a first step, the government will provide each arrival from Ukraine with a £200 grant to help cover any immediate costs while they settle in. Over 320 payments have already been made.

Guests will receive a text message which a voucher which can be used at any branch of the Post Office to receive the £200 payment.

Hosts are entitled to an optional monthly payment of £350 to thank them for their generosity. They will be emailed directly with details of how they can apply for this payment. Due to the current economic crisis, hosts are due to receive payments increased by £150 per month between the months of October 2022 and March 2023. These will be payable to existing and new hosts and be payable from 1 November.

Payments are made by districts and borough councils and they will be prioritising those who have been hosting the longest.

If you choose to claim payments, they will be made monthly, in arrears, and backdated to the first day on which your guests arrive.

It’s vital you tell us as soon as your guests arrive (if you haven’t already done so) using the Homes for Ukraine scheme form.

Please do not contact us or the borough and district councils to ask about host payments. You will be contacted directly by your local district or borough council as soon as possible to let you know how to apply.

We thank you for your patience while we finalise this process. 

For more information and support services for people from Ukraine in the UK, visit The British Red Cross: Help for Ukrainian nationals in the UK (redcross.org.uk)

The Department for Work and Pensions has provided an extensive guide on the support available for Ukrainians guests arriving in the UK, including information and guidance on National Insurance, Universal Credit, Child Disability Allowance, your rights at work, how to find a job, and CV and interview tips. See Guidance for people from Ukraine living in the UK.

Banking

To open a bank account in the UK, you usually need to show proof of ID such as passport, biometric residency permit, driving licence or recognised identity card. You also normally need proof of permanent address.

The government is working with major banks to find a solution to enable guests to open accounts without the usual permanent address requirement. 

Some banks with arrangements for Ukrainian refugees include:

NatWest Ukrainian Refugees - NatWest Bank Accounts

HSBC Basic Bank Account - HSBC UK

RBS Ukrainian Refugee Account Opening - Royal Bank of Scotland Bank Accounts (rbs.co.uk)

Access to benefits

The UK’s welfare system is designed to help those who face financial hardship or who have specific needs. The government has ensured that arrivals from Ukraine can claim benefits immediately.

Your local Job Centre Plus (JCP) will be able to help you find out which benefits you may be able to access. In East Sussex, there are branches in Bexhill, Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Newhaven.

To find your nearest JCP visit: Jobcentre Plus Local Office Search.

Benefits may include:

  • Universal Credit – a payment for those of working age to help with your living costs if you’re on a low income. You could be working (including self-employed or part-time) or be out of work
  • Pension Credit - extra money to help with your living costs if you are over the age of 66 and on a low income. You can apply for Pension Credit online or by telephone
  • Disability benefits – extra money to help with additional costs if you have a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
  • Carer’s Allowance – extra money if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week
  • Child Benefit – extra money to help with the cost of raising a child

To help new arrivals with applications, translation services are available for those making claims by phone. Work coaches and DWP staff at JCPs across the country are on hand to support people making claims online. 

As the host (sponsor) of a Ukrainian individual or family, any benefits your household is entitled to will not be affected.

To find out more on the types of benefits available visit Browse: Benefits.

Benefits advice is also available in East Sussex at the Hastings Advice and Representation Centre:

Before applying for Universal Credit, you can chat by phone or online with advisers from the free Help to Claim service at Citizens Advice:

You can make a claim for Universal Credit by:

Finding a job and paying tax

Work

We know that many Ukrainians will want to work. They have the right to work as soon as they arrive in the UK. You need to be 18-years-old to work full time.

There are many ways to look for a job:

In East Sussex, the ESTAR service helps refugees and people in temporary accommodation into employment. 

All public organisations in East Sussex advertise their latest job opportunities:

An individual work coach assigned through the local Job Centre Plus office can help you find and apply for local employment opportunities.

You can search and apply for work through the government's Find a Job site.

And many commercial sites list jobs which can be searched by area, including:

Employers must check that a person is eligible to work in the UK before employing them. Arrivals can use their Biometric Residence Permit as evidence of immigration status in the UK, including the right to work.

Advice about employment rights, including the minimum wage, is available from Citizens Advice.

For more information on education and training opportunities for Ukrainians in East Sussex, your guest can now visit the East Sussex College Ukraine Support website.

Support into Work programme

Support into Work is a project now available to assist Ukrainian guests in East Sussex to help them into employment. The project will be run by three partners and each organisation will work in locations across the county to offer the same level of support to all guests.

The Support into Work project will include:

  • An assessment to understand your employability needs
  • One-to-one and group training in areas such as benefit calculations, working in the UK, job search support, mock interviews and more.
  • Signposting to other relevant support such as English lessons as well as qualification transference from Ukraine to the UK where possible.
  • Working with employers to help them realise the benefits of hiring Ukrainian guests and make issues around referencing easier.
  • Funding some childcare for parents to access this support and funding clothing for job interviews where needed.
  • Working will work with the local housing authorities and services to assist those on the project to be suitably housed.  

To access this support, guests can email supportintowork@sussexcommunity.org.uk with their name and contact details. Find out more here: Refugees - Careers East Sussex

National Insurance

A National Insurance (NI) number is used to make sure a worker’s National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against their name only. For more information see: Apply for a National Insurance number.

Paying tax

Earnings from employment are taxed at different rates depending on the amount earned and the type of employment.

An employer will often automatically deduct your income tax from your monthly salary using the PAYE system. Self-employed workers are expected to calculate and pay their own tax.

To check what form of tax is right for your employment see Check employment status for tax


Getting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

A BRP is a card with your guest's immigration status on it. They can use it to prove their right to study, work and claim any benefits they are eligible for.

The entry stamp they received on entry into the UK provides evidence of their right to stay in the UK but is valid for the first 6 months only. To extend their stay for up to the 3 years allowed under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, they will need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

This will require them to provide biometric information, including a photograph of their face and a sample of their fingerprints.

If they do not do this, they will lose the right to live and work in the UK and any benefit payments they are receiving will stop.

To apply for their BRP,  fill in the online form to start the process of providing your biometric information.


Transport

When guests arrive in East Sussex they will be entitled to 4 weeks’ travel on many local buses.

To get a free travel pass for Stagecoach buses, please contact us on ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk and we will send them out to you.

To get a free travel pass for Brighton & Hove Buses they can take their passport and visa to one of the offices:


Education and children’s services

Schools

Children aged 5 to 16 are required to be in full-time education.

Children from the age of 4 can be enrolled in a local primary school which usually teaches children from the ages of 4 to 11. Children 11 and older can join a local secondary school which, in East Sussex, teach children from the ages of 11 to 16.

Ukrainian families with school-age children can apply for school places online at Apply for a place during the school year.

They can get more help and advice from their local school by emailing Admissions

You can find a list of schools in East Sussex at Find local schools.

More than 410 Ukrainian children have already been allocated school places. Ukrainian families with school age children can apply for school places online.

Childcare and Early Years

You can get help towards childcare depending on your circumstances, including:

  • free childcare places for children aged 3 and 4
  • extra free childcare if you are working and your child is aged 3 and 4
  • free childcare if your child is aged 2 and you are on a very low income

You may also be able to get money off your childcare bills if you are working or are on Universal Credit.

For more information, see:

You can find registered childcare providers in East Sussex online at Finding childcare.

Further education

All young people in England are required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday and most continue until the end of the academic year in which they turn 18.

Ukrainian teenagers who have arrived in East Sussex on the Homes for Ukraine or Ukraine Family Schemes are eligible for further education or for apprenticeships that combine earning and learning.

For more advice and information about post-16 education in East Sussex see What options do I have at 16?.

East Sussex College has campuses in Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Newhaven and offers a broad range of courses. Find out more at East Sussex College.

Other colleges include:

English language support

A range of English language support is available for Ukrainians in East Sussex. Some helpful courses, resources and discussion groups on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) are listed below.

Level 1 - No English/basic English

  • Pre-entry ESOL programme – 11-week courses through East Sussex College Group (ESCG) in Hastings and Eastbourne.
  • East Sussex Libraries - Learning East Sussex County Council libraries offer free Functional Skills English to level 2, fully accredited. These are held in Eastbourne and Hastings libraries but also via online learning.
  • Informal conversational classes/cultural awareness input –refugee buddy group and local community groups including Sanctuary café, Black Butterfly, refugee buddy project, groundworks, HVA, RVA, 3VA.

District and borough councils:

Language apps:

Level 2 - Some English but requires more to be work-ready/ESOL

  • East Sussex College Group (ESCG) ESOL Accredited courses from September. Guests can register their interest for these courses.
  • Sanctuary Cafe, Fridays between 10am and 12 noon at All Souls Church Hall, Wellesley Road, Eastbourne.
  • Ukrainian Café Hub, Robertson Street, Hastings offer conversational English groups Tuesday afternoon 1pm to 4pm.
  • Education Training Consortium Sussex - etc Sussex based in Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea. Currently offering Beginner-Elementary and Pre-Intermediate English lessons as well as IT lessons. Currently offering 8 classes per week.
  • Black Butterfly based in Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea are providing informal conversational classes with co-developed project spaces including gardening, cookery, and craft among others.
  • Refugee Buddy Project based in Hastings and Rother. Provide informal English conversation, 1 hour per week, for people who sign up with a buddy. Informal English conversation workshops available on understanding bills, council tax, housing, driving theory.
  • Diversity Resource International based in Lewes. Offering structured classes, internet-based learning, buddying, mentoring and peer support, and informal learning.
  • The Links Project Drop-In, Wednesdays 11am to 3pm at Central Hall, 6B Station Road, Hastings.

Level 3 - Good English/post ESOL/employability support

More support for children and families

For more information about support for children with special educational needs or disability, please see East Sussex County Council Local Offer.

For more information about support for families in East Sussex, please see: Children and families.


Social care for adults

Anyone aged 18 or over may receive help if they have care needs due to physical disability, mental impairment or illness which make them eligible for support.

Anyone can request an assessment of their social care needs at any time, or request advice and guidance, by contacting Health and Social Care Connect (HSCC).

You can assess yourself online if you (or someone you care for) is eligible for help at Assess yourself.

For more information about Adult Social Care and Health in East Sussex see Contact Adult Social Care and Health.

You can contact us by

  • Email: HSCC
  • Phone: 0345 60 80 191
    (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week (including bank holidays). Calls are charged at a local rate).

Community and voluntary groups in East Sussex

We’re lucky to have a rich network of voluntary and community organisations across the county. Many of them are already active in providing support for Ukrainian refugees.

For an overview of voluntary and community organisations in East Sussex see:


Housing support and options for guests

We are working in partnership with hosts as we support them in their generous commitment to accommodate Ukrainian guests in East Sussex.  We are also committed to welcoming Ukrainian guests to the UK and ensuring that their housing options are made clear.

This guidance explains what options and support are available to hosts and guests.

We strongly encourage hosts and guests to discuss expectations as early as you can, and within the first 4 months of guests’ arrival.  This should include talking about what hosts can offer and for how long, what guests’ future intentions are, and how you will plan next steps. 

Hosts have committed to provide accommodation to their guests for a minimum of 6 months, but many will be able to continue to accommodate their guests for longer.  Whatever hosts and guests decide to do at the 6-month point, please inform us at least 2 months before you think your situation may change.  You can do that by contacting us at ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk.

The options for hosts and guests after six months are:

  • Continuing sponsorship
  • Finding a new host
  • Finding privately rented accommodation
  • Contacting your local council for housing advise

Continuing sponsorship

Many hosts may be able to continue their sponsorship arrangement beyond six months.  We are asking hosts to continue hosting their guests for as long as they can, as many Ukrainians will not be ready to move on after 6 months and the severe housing shortage in East Sussex and across the UK means that moving on is not easy.

Monthly ‘thank you’ payments to hosts are available for 12 months and these will continue automatically if you continue to host, for up to 12 months.  Winter top-up payments of an extra £150 per month are being offered from October 2022 until March 2023 to help hosts with the cost of living. In addition to the winter top up payments, the council has also agreed to a one-off incentive payment of £1000 for hosts who host for 12 consecutive months and who are willing to extend their placements beyond the 12-month period.

We understand that not everyone can continue to host after 6 months. Where that is the case, we encourage you to work with your guests to develop a plan for how they will move on and a realistic timescale for this wherever possible.  If you need help, we may be able to signpost or refer you to services who can advise you, please contact us on ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk

Finding a new host

If hosts can no longer accommodate their guests, it may be possible for guests to find a new host.

It may be possible to find a new host through someone that you already know, or through local groups within the community.  Some local organisations may be able to help find a new host.  If you are not sure who can help, you can contact us on ukraine@eastsussex.gov.uk.

Advice on finding a new host has been published by the Government and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/homes-for-ukraine-support-for-sponsors
They have also published a list of organisations who can help guests find a new host: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/recognised-providers-organisations-who-can-help-guests-from-ukraine-find-sponsors-in-the-uk. It is important to contact them as soon as possible, to give the best chance of finding a suitable new host.

If guests do find a new host it is important to let us know as soon as possible and before any move takes place, so we can arrange the necessary host checks and monthly thank you payments.  We can only fully support new arrangements once these checks are completed.   

Finding privately rented accommodation

If it is not an option to find a new host, guests can look for privately rented accommodation.

This helpful guide will help guests understand how to rent in England. This will help guests when they are ready and able to move out of sponsorship into independent accommodation. This guide is available in Ukrainian.

Rents in East Sussex are high, compared to average incomes, which means many people find it difficult to find accommodation in this area that they can afford. It may be worth guests considering other areas of the UK which may have more affordable options. 

Guests can research the average costs of renting in the UK, to help understand what is available and affordable in their situation. There is also information available about rights and responsibilities as a tenant and welfare benefit entitlements: Entitled To.

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the maximum level of benefit that guests may receive in Universal Credit if they require welfare benefits to help with rent. Guests can check the LHA for the area they are looking to move to. LHA rates are generally a lot lower than market rents, which means guests are likely to have a shortfall and will need to make up the difference themselves between LHA and the rent being charged, so they will need to be certain they can afford to move into independent accommodation.

Information on renting in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland is also available.

Financial help with a deposit and rent in advance to access privately rented accommodation, is available through your local housing office, when guests have found a property and are ready to secure the tenancy. Access to help with rent deposits is dependent on the Council being certain that the guest can afford the property.

Contacting your local council for housing advice

Your district or borough council provides housing advice, and assistance to households at risk of homelessness.  To contact your local housing authority for housing advice or homelessness support please follow the below link:

Your local housing office | East Sussex County Council

It is important to remember that both privately rented accommodation and social housing is in short supply in East Sussex. Local households can wait for many years for social housing in East Sussex.  Households approaching councils as homeless, can live in emergency accommodation (usually B&B) for a long time, often outside of East Sussex, before a settled housing solution is found. These households will often only be made one offer of privately rented housing.


Local government

Local authorities in East Sussex are divided into three tiers:

1. East Sussex County Council

Provides services including highways and transport, adult social care, children’s services, libraries, and economic development.

2. Borough and district councils

Provide services including housing, domestic waste collection, parks and leisure, council tax collection and planning applications.

3. Parish and town councils

There are over 90 parish or town councils across East Sussex. To find out more see Parish councils contact details.

Provide services including looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters and some car parks.


Libraries and resources

Ukrainian guests can find a free public library in all larger towns. See a full list: Find a library near me in East Sussex.

They can reserve a computer to use at a library or reserve a quiet space to study.

They also offer adult courses to improve English, maths or computer skills.

It’s free to become a member of the library and borrow books, films, music or other items.

East Sussex libraries also have eBooks in Ukrainian which are free to borrow:

Community Languages - Ukrainian Content.

See full details about the library service.

For hosts of refugees, you can find helpful Ukrainian Dual Language Resources.


Supporting and living with refugees

Offering to share your home is kind and generous but you probably already know this won’t be easy.

Some things to bear in mind which might help are:

  • Think about what a refugee might need rather than what you can offer. It’s important they feel supported but also that they make decisions for themselves.
  • Be gentle, patient and informed. Many people will be traumatised or nervous. They may not want to talk about what they’ve been through, and even if they do, you might find it hard to hear.
  • Many will speak little or no English and you might have to rely on translation tools like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator
  • Your help in introducing them to local services (such as registering with a GP) and to community support and activity will be valuable.
  • Think twice about taking pictures or posting on social media about your hosting experience. Would that really help your guests or you?

There are organisations who work regularly with refugees and offer advice and ideas to help you adapt. For more, see:


More advice

Hosts of Ukrainian refugees in East Sussex can call our telephone advice line with further questions.

Phone: 01273 337010  10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

The government has produced a welcome guide for Ukrainian arrivals coming to the UK

We’re sorry, but we do not have any information on the visa status of Ukrainian arrivals. All visa applications are handled by the Home Office and we do not know when visas are granted.


Next steps

We’ll keep this page updated with developments.

We have also published a guide for our Ukrainian guests, available in Ukrainian and English:


Thank you, once again

Thank you for your response to the crisis in Ukraine - your kindness in supporting people in need is much appreciated. We hope the partnership of hosts, public services and volunteers and our Ukrainian guests will make them feel welcomed and help them establish a second home in East Sussex.