Host Information

What is Hosting?

Hosting is based on the principle of hospitality: extending warmth and welcome to a Ukrainian guest into your home. In hosting a refugee guest, you’re committing to offering a safe and secure place to stay, facilities to wash, and somewhere to cook and eat.

It sounds simple and it can be but there is lots to think about and a process you need to go through to be approved as a host. At the hub we have lots of current hosts and we will talk to you about our experiences and we have lots of helpful advice as well as potentially introducing you to a Ukrainian looking for hosting.

What support will a Ukrainian refugee expect from a host?

Refugees who arrive under the Homes for Ukraine scheme will have access to mainstream welfare benefits (Universal Credit) and will have the right to work. As a hub we support out guests to find work and access benefits if their host struggles to assist with this aspect.

We also work closely with Warrington Council, charities and support organisations who also support with this and we have regular sessions at the hub to assist guests and hosts to settle in to their new lives in the UK.

It is worth remembering that people fleeing from Ukraine have very recently suffered intense trauma. They have fled their homes, livelihoods and likely left family members behind in a situation of extreme uncertainty and danger. You should be prepared for the possibility of the refugee(s) you are hosting experiencing psychological trauma which may require external help and support.

The hub often experiences guests taking some time to settle and we can offer support and advice from our own experience as well as providing your new guests with other Ukrainian guests from our volunteers that can help and support.

There can also be language and cultural differences – some of which may be immediately obvious, others may take time to learn and get to know.

The hub offers support with learning English and there are other courses across the area which we can signpost guests to.

We also know some of the cultural differences due to many of us hosting for a number of and we can advise on our experiences and the obvious points of difference that have come up. Much of this can be navigated through setting boundaries early on and being upfront about what you able to offer – for example use of the kitchen, eating together or not, how you store food, who buys food.

Do we always need to spend time together?

Not at all and this is something that will differ family to family, many guests will need – and want – alone time, just like you will. It will take time and patience to build these rhythms together. Our suggestion is that you are open-minded going into the hosting and flexible to the needs of the person/people you are hosting but that you talk a family about how it would work best for you and so you are aware of some of the needs you have and being honest and upfront is the best way. If you would like a separate lounge area suggest this and then let hem know upfront, boundary setting like this helps as it does in any living together arrangements.

Incredible friendships can form as a result of hosting however be open minded and don’t have huge expectations as this is not guaranteed to be the case. Individual characters, personalities and background also play a big part in how interactive a guest will be with their host and vice versa.

What will happen to the Ukrainian refugee guest(s) at the end of the hosting arrangement?

Sometimes short stays of 3-6 months are sufficient for refugees to get their bearings of a new country, to find belonging in a new community, and to find support networks. In the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the government are asking hosts to commit to providing accommodation for a minimum of 6 months.

We are still trying to navigate what happens after this and some of our guests are renting their own properties successfully, others look to move to another host and some hosts have offered to continue beyond 6 months. This is the accountability of WBC to work with hosts and guests to navigate.

Current government advice can be found here

How will I be allocated a Ukrainian refugee?

When you register as a host through the Homes for Ukraine website you don’t need to name the person you would like to host.

If you would like to host or are considering hosting the hub has a waiting list of friends and families of our current members looking for support.

How many people you can host will depend on the accommodation you can offer.

How do I complete a visa?

The hub is able to help you with this process and we have matched over 45 guests now in the area, we can also support with building those relationships initially. A visa takes anywhere between 2 weeks and 3 months to come through.

Once you have found a guest and started the process we will advise you to inform WBC in order to start the process of you as a host and all over 18 year olds living with you to have an enhanced DBS check, this is a new one even if you have one as well as a house check where the council will check that your accommodation meets the standard. This is nothing to worry about and it is not about décor it is about ensuring the size and number of rooms/beds is adequate. If you want to host please contact us and we will go into more detail about this.

Click here to apply for a visa

If your guest does not have the ability to verify their identity on an app, this can often be the case when they have difficulties with language or internet connection you can opt for doing it later, i.e when they are in the UK. It is a small option at the bottom of the screen that states "I cannot use the app" on the next page click "confirm later" and then you can complete the visa.

Rent and guest expectations

Guests should not be charged rent and should not be providing free or underpaid labour, including domestic services and seasonal agricultural work, in exchange for accommodation and/or food. If you breach this by charging rent this will turn the arrangement with the guest into a lease and the guest will have tenancy rights in respect of your property.

If, following the end of the matched arrangement and having notified WBC of this, you start accepting rent it is for you to ensure you understand the type of lease the individual will have in respect of your property and adhere to all legal requirements imposed on you as a landlord. Where this is no longer a matched arrangement, you will not be eligible to the £350 ‘thank you’ payment paid by WBC

It is important that you agree about contribution/payment to food arrangements and who will be paying for what as this can sometimes be where difficulties arise. Setting clear expectations at the start assist with ensuring that it is a successful match.

When a Guest arrives

When your guest arrives we will be here to support you. Your guests will have a visit from WBC where they will provide them with the £200 cash pee person emergency funds - more information about the council’s support can be found here.

It can feel overwhelming when your guest arrives there are often lots of emotions and it can take a while for your guest to settle, accept they may be quiet and take things at their pace. There is no rush, school can be arranged in time, they will need to acclimatise and sometimes coming to the hub and meeting other guests who have been here a while now can assist this transition as they can speak to someone in their language who understands exactly how they are feeling.

It can be a good idea to write a translated letter for when they arrive which introduces your family and how your home and family works, this can easily be done on google translate. It is also useful to download a translation app to your phone so you can communicate easily from when they arrive. If you are unsure how to use this come to the hub and one of our volunteers will help you, this can be before your guest arrives as well.

SIM Card

You may be met at the airport by the Red Cross and provided with a SIM card, if not we have some at the hub that we can issue to your guest as having a UK number is essential to accessing Universal Credit and starting lots of the processes off as the confirmations can only be text to a UK phone number.

Universal Credit and Family Benefit

Applying for Universal Credit starts on line and then you will be asked to attend a meeting at the Job Centre, your guest will need to take 3 forms of ID and their visa right to travel document can be one of these, there will be a list on their appointment letter. If they also need to apply for family benefit, complete the form and when you visit the Job Centre in Warrington take the children's original birth certificates and they will photocopy them and give you an authorised copy so you don't need to send off the originals.

NI Number

Applying for an NI number is online and is relatively simple, you will need to follow the steps via the link below. It is advisable to do this as soon as possible but not having an NI number doesn't stop your guest getting a job or applying for Universal Credit.

Apply for a National Insurance number

You have to upload lots of pictures like passport, entry stamp, photo of your guest holding passport, Home Office Letter etc. The NI number is generated very quickly and for pensions the pensions team can see it within days, for my guest it took 7 days to get the card in the post so a lot quicker than advertised.

Applying for a Bank Account

It is sensible to do this as soon as possible. Monza has proven to be quick and easy or use your own bank if they are helpful, Nationwide and Santander have had good reviews whilst others such as Natwest have taken up to 8 weeks. If your guest doesn't have a bank account before their Universal Credit appointment you can add your bank account and then change it later so the claim for Universal Credit is not slowed down.

Applying for Pension

You will need a bank account and NI Number to start this process, however you don’t need to wait for the letter apparently, the Pensions people can see within 24 hours that it’s on the system.

Apply for the Pension 0800 991 234 – It’s the state pension and you might be on hold a while. Advice is be persistent as many had the message “someone will call you back within 5 days” and nobody ever did. Some hosts have said that in the end we did it verbally over the phone (they can do this even though they can say they can't) the advisor asked the questions and completed the form over the form.

"As before they were cool about speakerphone and me doing most of the talking as it was pretty obvious we were together. They were quite relaxed about any Ukranian pensions as they are a very, very small amount of money. Though they do ask. Also very empathetic about housing in Ukraine etc – given the situation. So don’t worry too much about that they don’t want bank statements or anything. After that, it emailed my guest with a reference number – pretty immediately and you have to email that reference number and all the former documents above (which you’ll have anyway through the NI process) and you email that off to We did that on Tuesday 28th June and my guests 1st payment went in on Tuesday 5th July. (but they knew about it and could give me payment dates and amounts by Thursday 30th July when I called them for an update. The number for support once you’ve applied is 0800 731 0469

So my advice is be persistent with the Pensions and don’t take that ‘we’ll call you back” thing too many times. It was actually really super quick once we’d actually got through to someone and done the application over the phone."

Experience from a Host who posted on a Ukraine help forum

If your guest wants to travel and is claiming Universal Credit

Guests can keep claiming Universal Credit if you’re going abroad for up to a month if at the start of the absence you don't plan to be away for more than one month. It may be extended up to two months if the absence is caused by the death of your partner, child or close relative who is with you.

In regards to them being able to return, the permission to travel letters are indefinite so with that and their biometrics card there shouldn’t be an issue with them returning, just keep an eye out for any rule changes with the permission to travel letter as the home office may change the rules on them later down the line.

What to do when your guest arrives