A new report by More in Common, drawing on an original survey of 1200+ Homes for Ukraine hosts, finds that one year on from its launch, the scheme has been a broad success
A new report by More in Common finds that one year on from its launch the Homes for Ukraine scheme has been a broad success that should be celebrated and learned from. Drawing on public opinion research and a survey of over 1200 Homes for Ukraine hosts, More in Common finds:
Support for the UK taking in refugees from Ukraine is strong and consistently so: Polling from March 2023 found that 71 per cent of Britons believed that the fact that the UK had taken in more than 150,000 refugees is a good thing and only 16 per cent thought it was a bad thing. Polling from November 2022 found that most of the public think that the UK should continue taking in refugees and that these refugees should be able to stay for as long as they need to.
The hosts’ experience of the scheme has been overwhelmingly positive. Eight in ten hosts (81 per cent) say they had a positive experience of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Hosts rate their overall experience of the scheme at 7.72 out of 10. When asked to rate out of ten how well they got on with their guests, the average was 8.43. The overwhelming majority of hosts (88 per cent) are glad they took part in the scheme, while only a tiny minority (three per cent) say they regret it. Pride and positivity about the scheme were a consistent finding across our research.
The thought that we actually helped in some tiny way; we couldn't stop the invasion but we could give this one Mum a safe haven
It is a privilege to be able to support those in need who have had to flee the war. Our guests are lovely. And we have met many wonderful people who are hosts or involved with refugees in other ways
Hosts and guests matched in a variety of ways. A quarter of hosts said they were matched through specific named organisations like ‘Reset’ and ‘Citizens UK’, with many more meeting their Ukrainian guests through other channels such as local charities, faith groups or social media. Hosts cite a range of factors that motivated them to open their doors to their Ukrainian guests. These include doing their small bit to stand up to the Russian invaders, being compelled by the media coverage of the war in Ukraine, and more practical considerations such as having the spare room available for guests.
The community of hosts come from across British society. The Homes for Ukraine scheme has engaged an entirely new cohort of hosts in the UK – only four per cent of the hosts surveyed had taken part in previous refugee welcome efforts. Hosts reflect the political diversity of the UK. At the last general election, 27 per cent of hosts voted Conservative, 37 per cent voted Labour, and 25 per cent voted Liberal Democrat – showing that the welcoming of Ukrainians extends beyond progressive circles.
Most hosts are willing to continue hosting their guests, and would be willing to host new Ukrainian guests, either immediately or after a break. More than half of hosts we surveyed say they are willing to continue hosting their Ukrainian guest beyond the initial six-month commitment – if their guest wants to continue (38 per cent) and if payments continue (15 per cent). More than two in five hosts (43 per cent) are ready to host another Ukrainian refugee. A further 36 per cent are currently unsure but many of that group would consider hosting again after a break. Only 21 per cent would not consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee again – most of this group felt they had done their bit.
Hosts are open about the challenges they face and those their guests face as they settle in the UK. Many of these challenges are those which the wider public also experience in Britain today – struggles to get dentist appointments, limited public transport connections outside of large urban areas and navigating government bureaucracy in areas such as benefits.
We have hosted a teenager who has arrived without her parents or other family members. We have found it challenging living with a "teenager" Seems teenagers in Ukraine aren't too dissimilar to teenagers here!
Our guests are going back to Ukraine for their dental care as we do not have a dental service accessible to all in this country. Quite shocking
Claiming Universal Credit was a total eye-opener! Weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, seeing different people all the time, repeating answers to the same questions over and over again. I was frustrated. They remained calm and grateful
A poor experience has been Ukrainian cooking, nice thought to cook for us but some of it was awful (boiled potato, cabbage and cauliflower served in the water and called soup but not even flavoured). Puddings on the other hand were very nice. Borscht was good
The key challenge hosts identified was the lack of support helping their guests to find appropriate alternative accommodation. Only one in eight (12 per cent) say their local council has given support to find private rented accommodation. The most popular response when hosts were asked about improvements to the scheme was more support from local authorities to find more permanent housing for their guests. This is a particular priority given that almost a quarter (23 per cent) wish to bring their period of hosting to a close but are waiting for their guests to find alternative accommodation – while five per cent of hosts say they need to stop hosting whether their guests can find alternative accommodation or not.
Support from the government and local authorities has been patchy. Hosts rank guidance from national government and support from local authorities before and after the arrival of their Ukrainian guests as between five and six out of ten. Despite generous payments to local authorities to support Ukrainian refugees, 17 per cent of hosts say councils have not given nearly enough support to hosts - almost double that number (36 per cent) say the same about the government’s guidance.
Ironically a local WhatsApp group helped more than any government help
There’s an opportunity to build on the success of the Homes for Ukraine model across other welcoming efforts. Many hosts are willing to support guests from other countries. Three in ten hosts (30 per cent) would support an Afghan refugee currently in hotel accommodation in the UK. Three quarters of those hosts ready to host again are open to supporting either an Afghan or Ukrainian refugee. More broadly, these findings demonstrate that people-led approaches to community welcome work. As organisations such as Reset have highlighted there is a clear opportunity to learn from and build on this scheme for the future.
Following our research with hosts, More in Common has identified a series of opportunities for government, local authorities and the broader refugee welcome sector as we think about the next phase of Homes for Ukraine and the future of community-led welcome. They include:
The Homes for Ukraine scheme shows Britain at its absolute best. Across the country tens of thousands of ordinary members of the public have stepped up to offer their home to those fleeing conflict – a far cry from the divisive polarising debates about immigration and refugees we have heard over the past week. As this research shows, for the overwhelming majority of hosts, over 95 per cent of whom had never been involved in supporting refugees before, the experience has been an immensely positive and enriching one. Despite the natural ups and downs of sharing their houses with strangers, hosts are proud to have done their bit and many would do so again. The priority now must be to make sure that their goodwill is not abused and that Ukranian families who understandably want to find their own space and housing are given the support they need from the Government to do so.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme has demonstrated the incredible capacity of communities in the UK to open their homes and their hearts to those in need. It’s gratifying to see this report reconfirm that the UK public have a fantastic generosity of spirit, and have found the experience of hosting Ukrainians overwhelmingly positive. At Reset we plan to build on that huge potential as we continue or work to develop community-led welcome pathways for those forced to flee their homes
This has been an incredible year of hospitality across the entire United Kingdom towards Ukrainian people fleeing the war. Never before in our recent history have so many people opened their homes to so many strangers. What this report confirms is that hosts up and down the country have not only relished the opportunity to extend compassion and community to Ukrainians but are also keen to offer the same kindness to others too. Despite so much anti-immigrant rhetoric in our political discourse here is hard evidence that the British people are willing to welcome those in need
Just as the highly polarised political argument about asylum reaching a new boiling point, this timely More in Common research shows the potential to find so much more common ground on how Britain can welcome refugees well. The 165,000 Ukrainians who came to Britain are the largest group of refugees from one country in one year for over a century. That was made possible only because tens of thousands of people stepped up - from every nation and region, and as this research shows from all political traditions too. For those of us who believe Britain's proud tradition of welcoming refugees must be part of our future too, the pressing challenge is to broaden the political and public coalition of support for this country playing its part. More in Common present clear evidence that the idea of community welcoming significantly increases public support and confidence for the UK doing more, not less, to protect refugees. The experience of both hosts and guests as a crucial resource - to sustain the welcome for Ukrainians - and to start to establish a new social norm of community contact for many more of those making a new life in Britain. Perhaps most crucially of all, this research proves that the desire to host Ukrainians was a not a one-off. It has often been asserted that an exceptionalist response to Ukrainians would be impossible to replicate for people not fleeing a war in Europe. This report provides new proof that this notion has been significantly exaggerated. The issue is not that hosts or the broader public only want to support Ukrainians - but that there have been too few opportunities to invite people to get practically involved in helping others. More in Common show that many existing hosts and others want to step up and help others too. It would be crazy for this government - or the next one - to not want to develop a new welcoming framework that could unlock that civic groundswell of energy and capacity. It can make such a difference both to those making a new life in Britain and to the confidence of the communities they join - and so offers a pathway to shifting the narrative around refugees to a much more positive one than we see today.