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Nottingham: Council update on Homes for Ukraine and refugee resettlement programme

Nottingham City Council has released a detailed progress report on its refugee resettlement initiatives, focusing on the Homes for Ukraine program.

The report, which will be presented to the Communities and Environment Scrutiny Committee in June 2024, highlights the city’s ongoing efforts to support those seeking sanctuary from conflict and human rights violations. The comprehensive update provides insight into various programs, including those for Ukrainian, Afghan, and worldwide refugees, as well as asylum seekers.

Homes for Ukraine Program

Initiated in 2022, the Homes for Ukraine program aims to provide safe accommodations for Ukrainian refugees. The council has established a rigorous process for DBS checks and home visits for potential hosts. Hosts receive payments to support their Ukrainian guests, and the council facilitates re-matching if arrangements break down.

Key statistics from the program include:

  • Total Ukrainian guests accommodated: 457
  • Total hosts: 226
  • Breakdown by year: 114 guests and 66 hosts pre-2022, 261 guests and 112 hosts in 2022, 82 guests and 48 hosts in 2023, and ongoing support in 2024.

To enhance support, the council plans to invest in a new joint Migration Team, which will include recruiting workers for guest and host engagement, commissioning employment and housing support, and establishing a small grants process.

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Refugee Resettlement Programs

Nottingham has been at the forefront of refugee resettlement since 2015, initially focusing on Syrian families and expanding to include Afghan and other worldwide refugees. The city’s resettlement efforts are part of the United Kingdom Resettlement Scheme (UKRS), and specific Afghan schemes like ARAP and ACRS.

Statistics for refugee resettlement:

  • Total refugees resettled (2015-2024): 698
    • UKRS: 411
    • ACRS: 147
    • ARAP: 140

The council successfully provided wraparound care for Afghan refugees evacuated during Operation Pitting in 2021, which included services like ESOL classes, employment advice, and mental health support. Following the closure of the bridging accommodation in August 2023, all Afghan families were successfully housed, with the majority staying in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Asylum Dispersal Scheme

For over 20 years, Nottingham has participated in the Home Office’s asylum dispersal process, providing accommodation and support while asylum claims are assessed. The city typically hosts around 1,000 asylum seekers, but recent increases have seen the establishment of additional accommodation sites.

The new streamlined asylum decision process implemented in 2023 aims to clear a backlog of applications from individuals from countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Syria. Despite potential issues, the Home Office expects a significant number of positive decisions, which could lead to increased homelessness without additional funding.

Community and Partner Support

The council collaborates with various partners to address the needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Regular drop-in sessions, mental health support, and integration activities are provided across multiple sites. Additionally, a small grant scheme addresses issues like isolation, mental health, and crisis support.

Key initiatives include:

  • Multi-Agency Forum (MAF) meetings to address migration issues
  • Monthly meetings at temporary sites for coordinated support
  • Safeguarding Reference Meeting for vulnerable individuals
  • Countering Asylum Hate and Vulnerabilities forum to combat hostility

Future Plans

The council is working to streamline operations by bringing together the refugee resettlement and asylum seeker teams under a single manager. A new Contracts and Commissioning Officer will oversee grants and contracts, and a Power BI performance dashboard is in development for better data access.

Improving services for Ukrainian refugees remains a priority, with plans for further evaluation and support commissioning.

•  Nottingham City Council’s housing delivery hits targets amid challenges

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