Government launches website to register Ukrainian refugees to stay with UK sponsors

More than 20,000 people have expressed interest in sponsoring Ukrainian refugees to stay at home – just hours after the government website went live.

Offering those providing sanctuary a monthly payment of £350, the scheme was officially launched today after days of criticism over the government’s handling of the humanitarian crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .

Michael Gove told MPs he would allow Ukrainians without family ties to come to the UK and have “unlimited access” to benefits, jobs and healthcare.

The upgrade secretary added that there would be “no limit” to the number of Ukrainians who can benefit from the program.

By 6.30pm – two hours after its launch – 20,000 people had expressed interest in the scheme, the Department of Levelling, Housing and Communities confirmed. The Independent.

The website – Homes for Ukraine – says: ‘This bespoke program will provide an itinerary for those who wish to come to the UK and have someone here ready to provide accommodation for them.

The website adds: ‘Sponsors should provide accommodation for as long as they can, but we have a minimum wait of 6 months.

“A person is eligible for the program if they are a Ukrainian national or an immediate family member of a Ukrainian national and resided in Ukraine before January 1, 2022.”

He adds that members of the public with someone they wish to sponsor should contact them directly and be prepared to complete a visa application, which will be posted online on March 18, with full details.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

(Images from the Press Association)

“If you don’t know anyone you want to sponsor, you can get in touch with charities, faith groups or local community organizations that are starting to connect people,” he adds.

However, within minutes of the website going live, the link to the registration page was broken, leading users to a page stating that the site “is not accessible”.

Labor MP Mike Kane pointed out that the website had gone down, noting that ITV journalist Paul Brand had reported that it was not working and the site was not accessible.

In response, Mr Gove appeared to deny the allegation, saying: ‘I’m so sorry if Paul Brand’s internet connection is choppy.

“It seems the connection for my honorable friend the MP for Rutland and Melton is superior – she just signed up.”

Earlier, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced he would join the program to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee to live with his family.

“We have spent the past few weeks as a family discussing the devastating situation in Ukraine, and so we intend to apply today to join other UK households in offering our home to be a haven for Ukrainians until that they can safely return to their country,” he said in a lunchtime message on Monday.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we launched our first campaign to welcome refugees during the war in Syria in 2015. Today, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition to Following the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, we are asking the government to go further and faster to ensure the delivery of aid. To learn more about our Welcome to Refugees campaign, Click here. To sign the petition Click here. If you would like to donate, please Click here for our GoFundMe page.

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