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Showing Love and Support to Ukrainian Refugees through the SJOG Homes for Ukraine Scheme

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A Ukrainian family welcomed and hosted by the Cunningham family in Northern Ireland

As the first anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches, we are faced with the reality of the ongoing war and its devastating impact on the lives of innocent people. With temperatures in Ukraine dropping as low as –20 C during the winter months, continued Russian attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure have left millions with only intermittent access to basic utilities.

Furthermore, attacks on objects of civilian infrastructure, one of the latest being the devastating missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro killing 40 on January 14, continue to result in loss of civilian life. Even a year into the full-scale invasion, many are still looking to evacuate and find refuge in a safe place.

As Christians, it is our duty to offer love and support to those in need, and the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme provides a unique opportunity to do just that. Under this scheme, hosts commit to providing a spare room with access to shared facilities for a minimum of six months and will be entitled to compensation of £350 a month as a “Thank you” payment. After one year of hosting, this payment increases to £500 a month.

SJOG Homes for Ukraine is an official provider of this government scheme. It is a matching, training and support pathway for guests from Ukraine and hosts in the UK willing to provide much-needed support.

In the past, hosts and guests often met on social media sites, such as Facebook, and sometimes did not even arrange a video call before deciding to share a home. Needless to say, such approach has often resulted in miscommunication, unrealised expectations, and negative stories we have seen in the media. At SJOG Homes for Ukraine, we provide plenty of support to both hosts and guests to make the transition as smooth as possible for both parties.

We provide online training for hosts and guests, transfer from the Polish-Ukrainian border, a welcome box for Ukrainian guests upon arrival, and a multilingual team to support the needs of both hosts and guests, and thoroughly developed resources for both hosts and guests to help navigate the process. Additionally, we ensure support from local communities to make the experience as seamless and fulfilling as possible.

One host under SJOG Homes for Ukraine commented on his experience of hosting:

“SJOG looked after much of this. Setting up a zoom meeting was helpful and the WhatsApp group was an ideal way to communicate needs initially. The settling in process was a huge learning curve. […] It has been a positive experience for us learning about a different culture and broadened our horizons meeting such good people.”

Another host commented:

“My guest is a delight to share my home with. I am very happy to share the shopping and my kitchen with her and we take turns making evening meals for each other. With the help of the SJOG booklet, I was able to find out all the help available to her, such as the Red Cross payment and the Vodaphone sim card, and help her obtain these. Hopefully she feels as comfortable with me as I feel with her.”

By becoming a host through the SJOG Homes for Ukraine scheme, you have the opportunity to form a meaningful connection with your Ukrainian guest and learn about their culture and experiences. You will also be able to make a real impact in their lives during a time of great need.

So, as we mark the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, let us also celebrate the generosity and compassion of those who have opened their hearts and homes to those in need. And, to those who are considering becoming a host, we encourage you to join the SJOG Homes for Ukraine programme and make a difference in the lives of Ukrainians. Together, we can show the love of Christ to those who need it most.

For more information on how to become a host through the SJOG Homes for Ukraine scheme, please visit their website or contact their team directly.