Guidance for host families
Many of the people arriving from Ukraine will be traumatised by their experiences and may have very little knowledge of UK services and what help is available to them in Herefordshire. They may not understand English very well or not speak the language at all.
You can help them settle into life here with kindness and patience.
Additionally, if you have signed up to host a family through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, you can use this page to find useful resources. If you are still thinking about hosting a family, you may find the RESET guidance pages very useful.
Useful resources for host families
The No Accommodation Network helps hosts provide safe, temporary homes to people in need of urgent sanctuary fleeing persecution, trauma and conflict.
VITA SafeREFUGE’s welcome pack offers a great template for hosts to use to welcome their guests.
For further information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supporting your guests
Give your guests time to recover from the stress they experienced. Some of their relatives may have remained in Ukraine or lost their lives or homes. If they don’t start a conversation about personal matters, give them time to be alone and do not ask probing questions about their family or the situation in Ukraine.
Give them the opportunity to lock the room with a key, especially at night. They will need time to settle in. It would also be sensible to leave some snacks in the room (water, juice, fruit, cereal bars) for the first few days as they may be too embarrassed to go into the kitchen.
Ukrainians typically like to have windows with curtains and privacy screens to ensure privacy, wear slippers at home, and differentiate between their clothes to be worn at home and outside.
Their English may not be good. Stress can also make it difficult to take in and remember different languages. Writing key information for them will help them with their spelling. If you don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, a translator app on your phone will be very useful.
Your guests have moved to a foreign country under violent, traumatic circumstances. They may show a lack of independence and be confused. Deal with them sensitively. They are highly unlikely to understand things you’ll take for granted.
They are likely to need help filling in forms to get assistance, to get their children into schools, to register with a local doctors’ surgery. Most of this is done in face-to-face meetings in Ukraine, so they may be suspicious about filling in and submitting forms online. Only direct them to trusted sources, like gov.uk, NHS and herefordshire.gov.uk.
Region and religion
Herefordshire is a largely rural community. But they may have come from a small or large city. These factors – as well as age, education and religious beliefs – will affect their ability to adapt to their new circumstances.
Levels of religion are higher among the rural population in Ukraine and there are especially many religious rites and traditions in the west of the country. According to statistics, 91 per cent of the population are Christian (Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Protestants). However, this high percentage does not indicate strong religiosity: half of those who call themselves believers do not attend church, do not pray, do not know, and do not observe, church traditions.
If you can, provide a list of churches by region and denomination. Contact details of Ukrainian and Russian-speaking churches would be especially useful.
Remember, your guests will not be used to our public transport systems or travelling around. So, if possible, go with your guests the first time they need to get somewhere by bus or train.
Once they get used to our transport services, direct them to our travel and transport webpages where they can find lots of useful information.
Schools and education
If your guests have children, do your best to explain how the education system works, when summer holidays must take place, how often children usually get homework and how they can register their children for school.
Health and wellbeing
In the UK, paracetamol, rest and plenty of water is suggested as a treatment to most colds and flus. In Ukraine, lots of medicines are sold without a prescription, including antibiotics. So, your guests may be surprised to learn these cannot be bought over the counter here.
Visit our health and wellbeing web pages for more information on doctors, dentists and opticians.
Taurus Healthcare have created some useful healthcare resources for households in Herefordshire supporting Ukrainian guests as part of the Homes for Ukraine programme. Resources are provided in both Ukrainian and English.
Polish shops sell similar food products to those your guests are used to.
Many dishes are prepared from potatoes and cabbage. The most famous vegetable dish is borscht. Onions and garlic are widely used in Ukrainian cooking. Dumplings are also a national dish. Meals made from cereals are also popular. They are most often served as a separate dish (garnish, the name "kasha"). The most popular are buckwheat and wheat porridge.
Meat dishes are considered festive. Chicken, beef, lamb and pork are widely used in Ukraine. Pork lard (salo) is very popular. Lard with bread can be an independent meal, cold, salted or smoked.
Explain UK requirements if they come with pets.
Many Ukrainians are used to higher temperatures within their homes. Provide blankets, heating pad or hot water bottles, if possible. Explain about saving water and how to use both taps. Ukrainians often filter their water before drinking as they don’t think tap water is appropriate for drinking. Show them that it is.
Ukrainian children tend to be dressed warmer than British children. So, they may need time to get used to our climate and how we dress.
Rubbish and recycling
Ukraine doesn’t have a national recycling system and your guests are unlikely to know how to sort rubbish and where and when to leave it out for collection.
See our rubbish and recycling pages for more information.
‘Small talk’ is different in Ukraine. Your guests may not know what to say if asked about the weather. If asked how they are, they are likely to answer truthfully, not avoiding sensitive issues UK residents often do. Or they may think you’re being too personal. Ukrainians thank and apologise to people less than UK residents. They are not being rude: they are simply used to speaking straightforwardly about issues. They may be alarmed by strangers smiling or holding eye contact with them in the street. It’s best to avoid political issues.
Almost half of Ukrainians disapprove of the LGBT community and childfree. At the same time, about half of Ukrainians are neutral and only around seven or eight per cent look on these communities positively. When you feel ready to do so, it would be useful to explain the UK’s anti-discrimination laws.
Bereavement and mourning traditions
During the 40-day mourning period, the Ukrainian community have memorial feasts on the third, ninth and fortieth days after the death. On these days, special services are ordered in the church. They also have feasts on the six-month and one-year anniversaries of the death.