North Devon District Council: Homes for Ukraine approach
The council has spearheaded a rapid response for Ukrainian arrivals, and innovatively utilised local voluntary and statutory service partners to provide wraparound support. This approach provides proactive support to households in the scheme to maintain effective placements using casework, mediation and re-matching where needed. The lynchpin of the approach is a weekly multi-stakeholder forum developed for the co-ordinated support of the scheme. Along with the local authorities, partners included the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisation, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Early Help and guests from other relevant bodies invited to share when relevant.
This approach has established an integrated service to support both sponsors and guests to maintain sustainable and effective placements. It includes an effective traffic light risk assessment model and regular visits and contact from initial triage, welcome visit and ongoing assessments. As well as pre-arrival care and information for the sponsor to reassure them of the support, it also provides a local model to proactively manage sponsorship re-matching when required.
Early in the scheme, webinars were produced hosted by a VCSE partner organisation, the Pickwell Foundation, which included the local Member of Parliament and representatives from two local authorities to enable the public to hear what was happening and how and what support was being delivered.
A total of 48 hosts have benefitted from advice, resources, training and support drawing on the experience and learning of successful community sponsorship of refugees in North Devon.
116 Ukrainian guests have benefitted from comprehensive needs assessments, ongoing casework and one stop telephone support – all available in Ukrainian.
Other districts in Devon and beyond have benefitted from the open access sharing of resources, assessment tools and models of working.
Through Pickwell Foundation’s representation on a Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) core delivery group and the participation in many ‘task and finish’ groups on specific aspects of the scheme, the learning and best practice from this North Devon model has shaped the wider national development of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The project has also produced a one stop website of advice, resources, training and videos for both sponsors and guests https://www.northdevonwithukraine.co.uk/
The support provided has resulted in Ukrainian sponsorship in North Devon having a lower level of breakdown and an increased likelihood of sponsorship beyond the initial commitment (with more than two thirds of sponsors extending their commitment and less than 10% of guests needing a re-match).