The Caritas Social Action Network has issued guidance for the Catholic community’s response to the war in Ukraine.
The charity says “the need to plan and resource a humanitarian response to poverty in England and Wales is acute” as the arrival of refugees and a cost-of-living crisis threaten to compound the difficulties of the 14.5 million people already living in poverty in the UK.
The United Nations anticipates as many as five million refugees from Ukraine, with seven million more internally displaced. Most refugees are sheltering in neighbouring countries, although the British government has recently increased its direct provision for refugees.
The Caritas guidance focuses on support for Ukrainians in the UK, and what they can access via government schemes. It provides information on the visa extensions available to Ukrainians already living in the UK, as well on visa access via family schemes and the humanitarian sponsorship programme, “Homes for Ukraine”, which opens on 18 March.
This allows households to apply to accommodate refugees, with the government providing a payment of £350 per month. Applicants can register via the Reset website, although the guidance recommends that “any potential host researches the support that people fleeing conflict may need and what is available in their area” and contact local support groups.
It criticises the Home Office for failing to provide information about ongoing support: “The establishment of long-term routes to permanent resettlement will also be vital to the overall success of ‘Homes for Ukraine’. Further consideration needs to be given to housing and integration support beyond short-term hosting placements, to enable people to rebuild their lives here – or indeed claim asylum – if they wish.”
The charity has also criticised the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which it said would lead to “the creation of differential treatment of refugees depending on how they arrived in the UK”.
For charitable donations, the guidance encourages support for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, of which Cafod is a part. “Through Cafod, the Catholic community of England and Wales can give practical assistance in and around Ukraine,” it says.
The Caritas Social Action Network is the domestic UK branch of Caritas, while Cafod is its sister agency in the Caritas Internationalis aid network.