County Hall lights up in solidarity with Ukraine

Lancashire rallies round to support households taking part in Homes for Ukraine scheme

Ukrainian nationals are starting to settle into life in Lancashire following a massive collective effort from the county.

Lancashire County Council has been working with district councils, the NHS and various other organisations to support people fleeing war as part of the UK Government's Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

The scheme, which was launched in March, encourages members of the public to offer rooms in their houses to families and individuals from Ukraine.

Unsurprisingly, Lancashire has welcomed the Ukrainian people with open arms, with 4,212 people now registered to be sponsors, though not all will be successful. So far, 623 guests have been matched to properties in Lancashire. 

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme scheme is being led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office, with Lancashire Refugee Integration Team and Lancashire Resilience Forum working together to coordinate the Lancashire-wide response.

Rebecca Joy Novell, refugee resettlement and asylum dispersal contract manager, Lancashire Refugee Integration Team, said: "Staff and volunteers are working around the clock to support the families and individuals fleeing Ukraine.

"While the Homes for Ukraine scheme is being led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office, the county council and its partners have a vital role to play.

"It is a huge undertaking, but everyone is pulling together to make sure our new arrivals settle into their new lives in Lancashire.

"We're also taking numerous steps to support our sponsors, who have shown incredible generosity by opening up their homes to help those in desperate need."

One of the roles of the district authorities is to conduct property checks and report this back to the county council, which is also undertaking enhanced DBS checks for every person over 16 in the sponsor household. This has no bearing on the visa process for the scheme.

The Lancashire Refugee Integration Team is also in regular contact Lancashire Police and Pan Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnerships, to ensure safeguarding is maintained.

Seconded staff from the county council's Family Wellbeing Service are providing initial welfare checks to every family arriving from Ukraine, while commissioned casework staff are providing welfare checks for single adults.

Sponsors and their guests are provided with a Lancashire-specific Sponsors Handbook and a Guests Handbook, while the Integration Team is hosting a series of online webinars around how to deal with trauma, registering for benefits and accessing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

The county council is also working with district authorities and community groups to develop a range of integration activities.

Rob Dobson, head of policy and engagement at Burnley Council, said: "We're delighted to be able to give a warm Lancashire welcome to families who have fled their country to escape this tragic war and provide somewhere safe for them to recover from their ordeal. 

"We'll continue to work closely with hosts and partners to ensure our visitors settle quickly into life in Burnley."

The NHS is providing access to the full range of healthcare services for those entering the UK from Ukraine, inclusive of registration with a GP, access to medication, dental, eye care, maternity and mental health services as well as urgent or emergency medical support.

NHS staff locally are supporting families and individuals from Ukraine to ensure they know how to access the full breadth of healthcare services available to them.

Dr Lindsey Dickinson, associate medical director for primary and community care in Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “The NHS is incredibly proud to be working closely with partners across Lancashire and South Cumbria to provide a safe and welcoming space for those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“Everyone has a right to register with a GP and you do not need proof of address, immigration status, ID or an NHS number so we would encourage those entering the UK to register with a local practice as soon as possible for access to a range of healthcare services.

“The Covid-19 vaccination is also available, with bookable appointment and walk-in options for those eligible, to continue to provide our communities with the best possible protection against Covid-19. 

“Remember that the NHS is here to help, so please come forward for care if you need it.”

For more information about the Homes for Ukraine scheme, visit: