The war in Ukraine is in its second year and likely to enter a protracted phase. Ukrainians remain at risk with no safe place for refuge and thus are forced to seek refuge in other countries.
The Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) together with the St John of God Hospitaller Services (SJOG) launched the Homes for Ukraine matching service in September 2022 and has since successfully supported over 200 people displaced by the war.
SJOG and CSAN are appealing to those who can to consider hosting and supporting Ukrainians. Many are already displaced in neighbouring countries and there are more still in Ukraine in urgent need of shelter.
“In the midst of turmoil and constant shelling in Kharkiv, my family found a glimmer of hope through the Homes for Ukraine programme,” says Anna, a guest who recently arrived in the UK through the SJOG scheme.
“Our journey began when we were introduced to the programme, which was to become our lifeline out of a perilous situation. It not only provided us with an escape route but also paved the way for a brighter and more peaceful future for my son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The programme offered us a lifeline to escape this perilous situation, and we are incredibly grateful for this chance.
“A remarkable couple, Anna and Edmund, quickly became our sponsors, but they would soon come to mean much more. They enveloped us with care and support, evolving into more than just sponsors – they became family.”
The matching service brings hosts and guests together and facilitates safe travel to the UK. Where possible, the scheme will link with hosts’ local diocese and parish communities.
“The transition from a war-torn region to safety was made remarkably smooth, thanks to the program's efficient handling of every detail,” says Anna.
“From swift paperwork processing to speedy solutions for any issues that arose, the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme made sure our needs were met every step of the way.”
She adds: “We are profoundly grateful to the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ program for introducing us to such kind and compassionate individuals who have made this challenging journey so much easier for our family.”
Jane Butler hosted a family of Ukrainian refugees through “Homes for Ukraine”.
“Before the family travelled to the UK, we gather a small group of people around us who were happy to help and that has been so valuable,” she says.
“It isn’t all one way – it’s given us so much pleasure to get to know the family and I was delighted when one of the children came out of school after her first week with a certificate to say how well she had done in settling in and taking part in everything.
“There’s a lot of joy in being involved!”
In October, Pope Francis called for the Rosary to be dedicated to peace and reconciliation in Ukraine. He has dedicated prayers in November, the months of the Holy Souls, to victims of war.
We too call upon the Catholic community to pray for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters – those still in Ukraine as well as those displaced by the war, and encourage those who can to register with the SJOG matching service.
“In a world filled with challenges and uncertainties, ‘Homes for Ukraine’ shines as a beacon of hope, providing not just refuge but also a chance for a brighter tomorrow,” says Anna. “Our story serves as a testament to the power of compassion and the impact it can have on those facing the harshest of circumstances.”
The purpose of the programme is twofold: to evacuate people from the warzone and prevent homelessness amongst those Ukrainians already in the UK.
You can register for the SJOG matching service at sjog-homesforukraine.uk or search “Homes for Ukraine” on Facebook. If you wish to rent to rent out a property for the scheme, or have any other queries, please contact email@example.com.
Visit CSAN's website for more information on the Ukraine conflict and other ways to support: www.csan.org.uk/ukrainetoolkit/
Prayer for Ukraine
Mary, Our Lady of Kiev, Mother of God,
we ask you to intercede for the people of Ukraine,
for their government, and all who suffer as a result of war.
Be with them as you stood beside your Son,
suffering on the Cross at Calvary.
Give them strength and courage
through faith, hope and justice.
May we, in our turn,
support them through prayer and generosity
that human lives may be saved,
that the injured may be healed,
that the dead may rest in peace,
that there will be peace after war.