Unaccompanied Ukrainian children to be offered homes with Jewish families in UK
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Unaccompanied Ukrainian children to be offered homes with Jewish families in UK

World Jewish Relief welcomes new government policy to allow up to 1000 Ukrainian children affected by Russia's war to come to the UK with 'legal guardians'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Homes for Ukraine allows people in the UK to offer Ukrainian refugees a home.
Homes for Ukraine allows people in the UK to offer Ukrainian refugees a home.

Jewish families across Britain are preparing to finally welcome Ukrainian child refugees into their homes after the government agreed new rules allowing youngsters affected by the war into the country without a parent.

Communities secretary Michael Gove confirmed yesterday that the new policy will initially apply to the 1,000 children who had applied to come here under the Homes for Ukraine scheme but hadbeen left to wait for any response.

Lord Harrington, the Conservative peer who was appointed minister for refugees in March to oversee the government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, had argued strongly in favour of the new rules.

He confirmed that the Jewish Labour peer Lord Maurice Glasman and Lord Alf Dubbs had both been vocal on the issue, which Harrington said had alarmed MPs and peers across all political parties.

Harrington told Jewish News the Home Office had been
contacted by “members of the Jewish community” keen to provide accommodation after registering for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Prince Charles, who is patron of World Jewish Relief, met staff and families whose Ukrainian relatives have escaped the conflict (Photo: PA)

It is understood several Jewish families in north-west London and in Manchester are among those awaiting confirmation that they can offer their homes to these young refugees.

World Jewish Relief said yesterday: “We are pleased by the government’s announcement that unaccompanied under-18-year-olds fleeing conflict in Ukraine will be allowed to come to the UK.

“So many in our community are here today because the Kindertransport offered them safe passage out of danger, and we support this move to assist unaccompanied young people.

“We urge the government to ensure that thorough checks are put in place to safeguard these young people and that they are provided with comprehensive, holistic support through the process.”

Lord Glasman travelled to Ukraine last month, meeting children whose lives had been devastated by the impact of the war.

He met with Lord Harrington on his return to the UK.

One 17-year-old Ukrainian named Valya made newspaper headlines, having spent months alone in a single room in central Ukraine with air raids overhead.

Valya, who is on her way to the UK, said her parents would be happy she is now safe.

2HWT2WH A woman wih two children waits for an evacuation train, Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine on March 7, 2022. Photo by Dmytro Smoliyenko/Ukrinform/ABACAPRESS.COM Credit: Abaca Press/Alamy Live News

She left her family home in Kherson in southern Ukraine, where there has been heavy fighting, in the hope of travelling to the UK and living with a sponsor family in the Midlands.

Like hundreds of other Ukrainian teenagers, she had applied under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which for weeks made no mention of restrictions on under-18s travelling alone.

Lord Dubs, who escaped the Nazis as a child and has campaigned for young refugees, said he was “very emotional” to hear Valya was on her way to safety.

While “delighted” that Valya was among those now allowed to come to the UK, Lord Dubs called for all Ukrainian teenagers.

He said he was “delighted” that Valya was amongst those now allowed to come to the UK, but demanded that all Ukrainian teenagers who applied for visas to the UK, within the rules and in good faith, must now be issued with their visas to the UK.”

Lord Harrington told Jewish News that negotiations had taken place with the Ukrainian government to allow the move.

They did not wish to allow unrestricted access of Ukrainian teenagers into the UK over fears about the safety and well-being of the minors.

It is understood that the Ukrainian government has now provided a list of suitable ‘legal guardians’ who could either travel here with the children, or vouch for them before they arrive.

The change in position was set out in a written statement by the Communities Secretary on Wednesday.

He said: “This policy will initially apply to the 1,000 children who have already applied to the Home Office but are unable to travel as they are not travelling or reuniting with a parent or guardian.

Lord Alf Dubs

“After working closely with the Ukrainian government, the changes will enable a child to apply for a visa if they have proof of parental consent.”

The rule change is due to benefit only those unaccompanied minors who are already in the system.

Because of safeguarding concerns, their sponsors in the UK will need to either be a relative or known to their parents, such as a close family friend.

In exceptional circumstances the minors may be able to stay with a family they have been matched with, but they would need approval from the government and local authority after enhanced safety checks.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said, while it supports plans to make it easier for children to seek sanctuary in the UK, its priority is keeping children safe.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments