News release from 01/03/2022

Council pledges support for Ukrainian refugees

Council pledges support for Ukrainian refugees

South Cambridgeshire District Council has pledged to support people fleeing the Ukraine if a national resettlement programme is set up by the Government.

Leading Councillors have also said they will continue to work with Government and other agencies who are monitoring the crisis. They also say the Council will step-up and support national schemes that provide support to refugees leaving Ukraine as the detail is confirmed by Government.

The District Council has a housing team and stock of council homes and councillors have said that the Council will play their part and work to identify local homes for refugees leaving the warzone if needed.

The United Nations refugee agency said more than half a million people had fled Ukraine since the invasion on Thursday.

The offer of support in South Cambridgeshire follows the District Council’s commitments in recent years to provide homes to refugees from elsewhere. Last year (2021) the Council confirmed it had offered eight homes to support families relocating to the UK from Afghanistan, following a plea for Government for Councils to provide more housing help to Afghan nationals who worked for the British Government. This followed an offer of housing and support to refugees fleeing from Syria in previous years.

The Council worked with an existing resettlement team and support workers at Cambridge City Council to integrate families who arrived at their new homes and communities, to ensure practical support was in place. Any new families arriving from Ukraine in future will similarly need to be provided support and the Council will work with other agencies on the detail of how that support will be provided through local partnerships.

Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, said: “All Councils across the country should be indicating that they will be stepping forward and playing their part in helping to deal with the human cost of the terrible events which we are witnessing. The horror of the photographs and videos that we are seeing on the news and online, of missiles hitting the centre of Ukrainian cities and the resulting devastation, is impossible to overstate. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world we can offer assistance to people in the most horrific situation. We are all human beings and have a duty to assist. A national package of accommodation and support, administered by local Councils, is the very least that we can and should do.”

Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr John Batchelor, added: “We have around 5,500 Council homes and continue to build more each year. Therefore, we are clearly able to offer a helping hand to some families in the most desperate of situations whilst also ensuring that we are continuing to support those in greatest housing need in South Cambridgeshire. We cannot simply stand by and witness what we are seeing in Ukraine without offering support where can. This is exactly what we have done in recent years for families fleeing Syria and Afghanistan so there is no question of us wanting to do the same for refugees from Ukraine.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Business Plan commits to working with national, regional and local partners to support the needs of refugees and asylum seekers. The Council is now working on the detail of which Council homes could be offered to refugees fleeing Ukraine. Councillors have said that the impact on those in greatest housing need within the district will be minimised.