Welcome to East Sussex
Information for our Ukrainian guests
We’re proud to welcome you to our part of the UK and we hope you find a safe refuge here.
People in East Sussex have been horrified by the attack on Ukraine and the suffering it has caused.
Many of them wanted to offer you a place to stay and we will work together as a community to help you settle in here.
More than 960 Ukraine refugees are now being hosted in East Sussex - almost exactly half of all those who have been matched with hosts. We look forward to welcoming those of you who are due to arrive soon.
We hope this welcome pack gives you information and advice which is useful.
East Sussex is a beautiful place on the UK’s south coast, around 70km south of London.
About 550,000 people live here. Our largest towns are on the coast (of the English Channel, which separates us from France). As well as these larger towns - Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings - our coastline mixes pebble beaches, a long sandy strip and some famous chalk cliffs.
Inland you’ll find farmland, hills, woods and heaths – as well as smaller towns including Lewes, Hailsham, Uckfield, Crowborough and Battle.
You can reach London by train from many parts of East Sussex in between 75 and 120 minutes.
A small port at Newhaven offers ferry crossings to France. Gatwick airport, one of the main airports serving London, is just outside East Sussex.
Also just outside East Sussex, to the west, is the city of Brighton and Hove.
East Sussex is a county. England is made up of 27 rural counties like East Sussex, plus larger cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton.
East Sussex is divided into five districts. These districts (or boroughs) are: Eastbourne, Lewes, Hastings, Rother and Wealden.
Whichever part of East Sussex you stay in, we’re sure you will find a friendly welcome.
Watch this video for a warm welcome from Ukrainian citizen and East Sussex resident of over 20 years, Krysta Rafalska:
Registering with a doctor - a general practitioner (GP)
First we recommend you register with a local doctor (known as a GP, which is short for General Practitioner).
You are entitled to free care and treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) and the GP is your first contact for healthcare. They can discuss your physical and mental health with you and can refer you to hospitals or other kinds of treatment if needed.
Anyone can register with a GP. Some ID may be helpful but you don’t need other documents.
Your hosts may help you find a GP in your area. For a list of GP practices see: Our practices - NHS East Sussex CCG.
For more general information about registering with a GP, please 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.
If you do not speak English you can state your language and the operator will arrange a translator for the call.
Please Note: If you call 999 an operator will ask you “Which service?” You can answer:
Emergency departments in East Sussex
- Conquest Hospital
St Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 7RD
Phone: 0300 131 4500
- Eastbourne District General Hospital
Eastbourne, BN21 2UD
Phone: 0300 131 4500
Emergency departments close to East Sussex
- Royal Sussex County Hospital
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 (ESHT).
For a full list of services and more information visit: Our services – East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
Mental health support
Mental health services in East Sussex are run 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.
If you live in East Sussex, you can call Health in Mind, a free NHS service, on 0300 00 30 130, to discuss your feelings and reactions and to consider your next steps.
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 Ukrainian, English, 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
Anyone who is pregnant, or becomes pregnant, should let their GP know as soon as possible. The GP, or another expert known as a midwife, will arrange checks and personal care during pregnancy, birth and the weeks after.
There is also support from a health visitor. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training. They're there to help mothers, their family and children up to the age of five years old to stay healthy.
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 urgent situations, emergency dental treatment is available in East Sussex but an appointment will only be offered after a telephone assessment to check the case is a priority.
For more on emergency dental services, please see: Emergency Dental Service.
Vaccinations against Covid-19 and other infections
We know some people from Ukraine (and in the UK) have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.
You may like to get a free Covid vaccination or booster while you are in East Sussex.
For more on how to book these 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.
You will find reliable information about vaccination and other healthcare issues in several languages on the Doctors of the World website, Translated health information for patients.
Keeping people safe
You and your family have a right to live in safety, free from any kind of abuse and neglect, and to be protected if your safety is at risk. We call this ‘Safeguarding’, and you can report any concerns you have about yourself or any adult or child.
The document Guidance on Raising Concerns about Abuse and Neglect gives information about signs of abuse and neglect. It explains 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:
- in an emergency call 999
- phone: Health and Social Care Connect (HSCC) on 0345 60 80 191
- email: HSCC
- make a report online at Report a concern about an adult.
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)
- email: SPOA
- 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
Policing, and reporting war crimes
Sussex Police is responsible for policing the county of Sussex, including the 5 districts within East Sussex: Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes, Rother and Wealden.
At the heart of all they do is community policing. The police are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, protecting our communities, preventing crime and catching criminals. They also work closely with other organisations, including East Sussex County Council, to ensure that together we are keeping you, your families and the wider residents of Sussex safe.
In an emergency, you can contact the police by ringing 999. An emergency is one where a serious incident has happened or is happening, someone is at risk of immediate danger or harm, property is in danger of being damaged or that something has happened which will cause disruption to others in the area, for example a car accident.
If it is not an emergency, you can contact the police in a number of ways:
- Visit sussex.police.uk where you can report a range of non-emergency crimes including anti-social behaviour, fraud and sexual assault. You can also find advice on a wide range of subjects.
- Phone 101 which is the police non-emergency telephone number.
- You can send a private message to the police on social media – search ‘Sussex Police’ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
- You can visit your local police station.
War Crimes in Ukraine
In support of the investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine since 21 November 2013, the police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed or been a victim of any war crimes or crimes against humanity. They are also interested to hear from anyone who may hold evidence of war crimes committed in the Ukraine, such as video footage or images.
To report war crimes:
- Visit Report a war crime - Sussex Police
- Call 101 at any time
- Visit your local police station
Please be aware that any evidence gathered by the police may be shared with the ICC in support of their investigation. However we’ll treat all of the information you provide us in confidence.
Money, banking, benefits and work
The currency in the UK is the pound (£). Each pound is made up of 100 pennies (pence).
Support through Homes for Ukraine
You are entitled to a range of benefits and services in this country.
As a first step, the government will provide every person arriving from Ukraine with a payment of £200 to help cover immediate costs while you settle in. Over 320 payments have already been made.
Guests will receive a text message with a voucher which can be used at any branch of the Post Office to receive the £200 payment.
Or, you can ask for the payment to be sent by cheque which can then be cashed at any branch of Nat West bank (there are many branches in East Sussex). To request this option once you have arrived in East Sussex, please email email@example.com
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.
These payments will be made by the local borough or district council in East Sussex – Eastbourne Borough Council, Lewes District Council, Hastings Borough Council, Rother District Council or Wealden District Council.
Districts and borough councils are now starting to make these payments and will be prioritising those who have been hosting the longest.
Whilst this has taken longer than we expected, hosts’ invitations to apply for their £350 payment are on their way to them and they will be contacted directly by the local district or borough council as soon as possible to let them know how to apply.
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
Opening a bank account in the UK will make it easier for you to get support or to receive wages from work
Some banks may now allow you to open an account with just your UK visa. (Usually banks ask for more details, including proof of address).
Your hosts may be able to help you as you decide which bank to set up an account with.
There are many possible banks here but some with arrangements for Ukrainian refugees include:
Claiming benefits (support)
The UK’s welfare system aims to help people with little money, or who have extra needs. You can claim benefits immediately if you have arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
If you go to a Job Centre Plus (JCP) in East Sussex, you can find out more about the benefits you can claim. Job Centre Plus is a government office which gives advice on benefits and work.
You will find a Job Centre Plus in Bexhill, Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Newhaven.
To find your nearest, see: Jobcentre Plus Local Office Search
Benefits might 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 Credits 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.
For more on the types of benefits available, see:
- Support for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine - Understanding Universal Credit
- Browse: Benefits - GOV.UK
Before applying for Universal Credit, you can talk by phone or online with advisers from the free Help to Claim service at Citizens Advice. They can arrange a translator if you need one:
You can make a claim for Universal Credit by:
- phone: 0800 328 5644
- textphone: 0800 328 1344
- online: Universal Credit: How to claim
After you make your claim for Universal Credit you will need to have a face-to-face appointment in order to provide your identity details.
Some of our Jobcentres open 6 days a week, Monday to Saturday so you could be asked to attend on any of those days. There are telephone interpreting services available at all Jobcentres.
Once we’ve confirmed your identity, you can claim an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you if you do not have enough money for food and other essentials until your first payment. An advance payment will need to be paid back over a period of up to 24 months.
After your ID has been verified, you will need to attend another meeting at the Jobcentre to talk about your commitments and plans to move into work. This will be with a Work Coach who will ask you about your circumstances, your work goals, your employment history and let you know what help we can offer you. We know that some people may not be able to consider working straight away so we will also look at what other support you may need.
Your Work Coach will stay in regular contact with you and for Universal Credit to be paid, you will need to attend appointments when required. If you cannot attend an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible.
Benefits advice is also available in East Sussex at the Hastings Advice and Representation Centre:
- phone: 0333 344 0681
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any benefits that your host (sponsor) already gets will not be affected by your claim.
Finding a job and paying tax
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 work and training.
All public organisations in East Sussex advertise latest job opportunities:
- Jobs at East Sussex County Council
- East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust: Vacancies
- NHS Jobs - Search Results
- Lewes and Eastbourne Councils - current vacancies
- Hastings Online - current vacancies
- Rother District Council - current vacancies
- Wealden District Council - current vacancies
At the Job Centre Plus office you can ask for a work coach to help you find and apply for local jobs.
You can also 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, you can now visit the East Sussex College Ukraine Support website here: ESC Ukraine Support
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.
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.
When you arrive in East Sussex you will be entitled to 4 weeks’ free travel on many local buses.
To get a free travel pass for Brighton & Hove buses please take your passport and visa to one of their offices:
- 1 Stop Travel Shop - 26 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1EB
- Head Office travel shop - 43 Conway Street, Hove BN3 3LT
You can see details of all train services in the UK on the National Rail site:
There are direct trains to London from many stations in East Sussex and regular trains between towns along our coast.
Education and children’s services
Children aged 5 to 16 must be in full-time education.
Schools are divided into primary schools (for children aged 4 to 11) and secondary schools (for children aged 11 to 16).
For more help, please email Admissions.
You can find a list of schools in East Sussex at Find local schools.
Your hosts may also be able to tell you about local schools.
At least 277 Ukrainian children have already been allocated school places. If you have school age children, you can apply for a school place:
- School admissions guidance for parents, carers and sponsors for Ukraine nationals arriving on government schemes
Childcare and Early Years
Before children start school, you can get help towards their childcare. This could include:
- 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 Get childcare: step by step.
You can find registered childcare providers in East Sussex at Finding childcare.
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:
- Plumpton College - Open for September 2022 applications: specialist land-based college in Plumpton (and site at Stamner Park, Brighton)
- Bexhill College: Sixth Form College in Bexhill-On-Sea
- East Sussex College with campuses in Hastings, Eastbourne and Newhaven.
- Uckfield College
- Heathfield Community College
- Uplands Community College
- Hailsham Community College
There are many other post 16 providers in East Sussex, all of which can be found on Careers East Sussex.
Your hosts may also be able to tell you about local colleges.
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:
- Eastbourne Borough Council
- Hastings Borough Council
- Lewes District Council
- Rother District Council
- Wealden District Council
- Babbel - the language app, is offering free courses in English, German or Polish for Ukrainian refugees: Quick Help: Babbel supports Ukrainian refugees with language courses
- Duolingo is providing a free waiver so Ukrainian students can take an English proficiency test required for university applications.
- Busuu language app is also offering it’s premium service free to Ukrainians for 3 months. Here is the link in Ukrainian: Безкоштовне вивчення мов для українців - Busuu
Level 2 - Some English but requires more to be work-ready/ESOL
- East Sussex College Group (ESCG) ESOL Accredited courses from September.
- 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.
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:
- Hasting Voluntary Action – covering Hastings Borough
- Rother Voluntary Action – covering Rother District
- 3VA – covering Wealden District, Lewes District, and Eastbourne Borough
There are also local groups where Ukrainians meet and support each other. These include:
- East Sussex branch of the Association of Ukraine in Great Britain (being formed) - Facebook group
- East Sussex High Weald Ukraine support network - Facebook group
- East Sussex for Ukraine - Facebook group
- East Sussex Group for Homes for Ukraine - Facebook group
- Sussex Ukrainian support - Facebook group
- Lewes helps Ukraine - Facebook group
- Hastings supports refugees - Facebook group
Seaford for Ukraine - Facebook group
- The Refugee Buddy Project - Twitter
- Hastings Community of Sanctuary - Twitter
Local authorities (councils) in East Sussex are divided into three tiers:
Provides services including highways and transport, adult social care, children’s services, libraries, and economic development.
2. Five borough and district councils
- Eastbourne Borough Council
- Hastings Borough Council
- Lewes District Council
- Rother District Council
- Wealden District Council
Provide services including housing, rubbish 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.
You’ll find a free public library in all larger towns. For a full list, with opening times, see Find a library near me in East Sussex.
You 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
The online library lets you read books, newspapers, magazines and other material online.
East Sussex libraries also have eBooks in Ukrainian which are free to borrow. Find out more: Community Languages - Ukrainian Content
Full details about the library service: East Sussex Libraries.
BBC News Sussex is the BBC website for Sussex news (including East Sussex)
There are 2 regional television news services.
BBC South East is on the BBC One channel and covers East Sussex and its neighbours. It has local news updates every day at 13.30, 18.30 and 22.30.
ITV Meridian is on the ITV One channel and covers East Sussex as part of its South East news service.
The main radio station for local news is BBC Sussex. Find it online Radio Sussex - Listen Live - BBC Sounds or on 104.5 FM.
Local newspapers/news websites
Printed newspapers include the Eastbourne Herald, Hastings Observer and Sussex Express. The Brighton Argus also covers some East Sussex news.
Sussex World mixes stories from these and other newspapers online and there are other independent news websites.
Sports and leisure
Each district or borough in East Sussex has leisure centres with a range of swimming pools, gyms and sports facilities.
- Falaise fitness centre, Cambridge Road, Hastings
- Summerfields leisure centre, Bohemia Road, Hastings
- Lewes leisure centre, Mountfield Road, Lewes
- Downs leisure centre, Sutton Road, Seaford
- Seaford Head swimming pool, Sutton Road, Seaford
- Seahaven swim and fitness centre, Chapel Street, Newhaven
- Peacehaven leisure centre, Greenwich Way, Peacehaven
Freedom Leisure Centres in East Sussex are currently offering Ukrainian guests 3 months free access to their facilities, including use of the swimming pool, gym and fitness classes. Find out more and sign up here: Freedom Leisure - Support for Ukraine
- Bexhill leisure centre, Down Road, Bexhill
- Bexhill leisure pool, Hastings Road, Bexhill
- Rye sports centre and pool, The Grove, Rye
- Battle sports centre, N Trade Road, Battle
- Crowborough leisure centre, Eridge Road, Crowborough
- Hailsham leisure centre, Vicarage Road, Hailsham
- Heathfield leisure centre, Cade Street, Heathfield
- Uckfield leisure centre, Downsview, Uckfield
There are also many privately-owned gyms and health centres which sell memberships
Orthodox churches in East Sussex include:
- St Mary Magdalen, Hastings
- St Panteleimon and St Theodoros, Eastbourne
- Orthodox parish of the Nativity of Christ, Lewes
- For a map and list of Catholic churches in East Sussex see Parish Finder | Our Diocese
Anglican (Church of England - Protestant)
- The established Christian church in England. Almost every community has a church. East Sussex is part of the Diocese of Chichester
Mosques in East Sussex include:
We will update this guide with news and fresh information.
Most of all, we hope you will feel welcome and safe here. We will be happy if you come to think of East Sussex as your second home.