City welcomes first Ukrainian refugees

May 03 2022

Aliaksandr with his girlfriend and her daughter, who have fled Ukraine

Aliaksandr with his girlfriend and her daughter, who have fled Ukraine

UKRAINIAN citizens fleeing the war have started arriving in Bristol.

The city council says that by Thursday April 14, 295 Bristolians had offered sanctuary by hosting Ukrainian refugees and 107 visas had been approved under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. In total 385 Ukrainians have so far applied for a visa to come to Bristol. 

The council invited registered hosts, volunteers and recent Ukrainian arrivals to City Hall to find out about the support available and begin building relationships with others in similar circumstances.   

Councillor Helen Holland, cabinet member for adult care, said: “We are so heartened and grateful to our residents who have opened up their homes to people escaping the war, offering them a place of safety and peace. Bristol has had the City of Sanctuary status for over ten years now and the city’s response is a true reflection of this commitment. We need more people to step forward, and I would urge anyone considering it to find out more. 

“This is a whole city effort and we have seen organisations and individuals from every part of the city working together to do what we can for those affected by the war. As well as providing accommodation, this includes finding school places, organising English lessons, preparing social care services, as well as carrying out the necessary checks to ensure the wellbeing of both the host and guests.” 

Helen and Adam, who have started hosting a Ukrainian mother and son, commented: “It feels, even at this early stage, quite rewarding. There are clearly a large number of people within the community who want to chip in, in whatever way they can and that’s already happening in quite a big way.” 

Aliaksandr, a Ukrainian national living in Bristol, who has started hosting his girlfriend and her daughter through the Homes for Ukraine scheme said: “My girlfriend from Ukraine and her daughter came last week to Bristol. It took them 17 days to get through this process. It could have taken longer, but our MP in parliament helped us out. We all had stress about this, we had anxiety because they’ve been living in a refugee shelter. It was very stressful for them.  

“I am absolutely so happy that my girlfriend and her daughter are in Bristol, and I am doing as much as I can for them to bring them a normal life, not like what is going on in Ukraine.” 

Future support plans also include opening neighbourhood hubs across the city offering English classes and welcome to the UK sessions to new arrivals. 

As well as arriving in Bristol through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, people can also enter the UK on a family visa. As this is a Government led scheme, the council isn’t notified when people arrive through either scheme and is reliant on host families notifying local authorities. 

If you are a host and your guests have arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, or you have arrived on a family visa, contact bristolrefugeeteam@bristol.gov.uk for help and support.