Call for support of Ukrainian host families to help traumatised refugees

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka cross

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka crossing - Credit: AP

Families throwing open their doors to host people fleeing war-torn Ukraine will need guidance as well as cash to support traumatised refugees.

That is the message from the boss of New Routes Integration, which is based in Catherine Wheel Opening, Norwich, and helps refugees and asylum seekers adapt to life in the city.

Gee Cook, chief executive of New Routes Integration

Gee Cook, chief executive of New Routes Integration - Credit: Gee Cook

Chief executive Gee Cook said Ukrainian refugees are expected to arrive imminently and there has been a lot of interest from households to look after families or individuals.

The government has said anyone in the UK can host a refugee family.

Hosts, to be supported by Norfolk County Council, will receive £350 a month tax free for up to 12 months with one payment made per address.

Ms Cook added: "If someone needs additional psychological support there is no infrastructure for holistic care. Ukrainian people will be very traumatised.

"People are arriving here and it is brilliant they are safe but we are hoping the support for the families and individuals will become clearer in due course.

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"We are here on standby to help."

English classes at New Routes Integration group who received money from Sport Relief.
PHOTO BY SIMO

An English class at New Routes Integration group from 2016 - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

That would include the charity providing English language lessons, health and wellbeing support groups, get-togethers for mums and children, as well as giving out devices including mobile phones and tablets.

The charity boss, who leads a team of a 75 volunteers which help around 250 people per week, said housing a refugee allowed people learn from different cultures.

Gee Cook, chief executive of Norwich-based charity New Routes Integration

Chief executive of New Routes Integration, Gee Cook - Credit: Courtesy of Gee Cook

She added: "People coming over here have a story. Traditionally the UK is welcoming and tolerant to people who come here.

"For the past 600 years Norwich has been welcoming newcomers and it is no different now.

"The Ukrainian crisis has hit home because the country is close to us. It has hit a nerve.

"It is a big undertaking being a host family. People thinking of housing a refugee need to think long and hard.

"Does it fit in with your family lifestyle? You need a decent sized space. You cannot have people tucked up."

She also added it was important for vulnerable refugees not to be isolated.

Mrs Cook said there was a need for more rigorous government checks and balances on host families.