Alumna, Meghan Yager Treleaven Shaw (2004), has been working to support Ukrainian refugees at Warwickshire County Council Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Here she shares with us an insight into the work she has been doing.
What is the purpose of my role?
I am delighted to be able to say that I am a brokerage officer for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme at Warwickshire County Council (WCC). The Homes for Ukraine Scheme allows Ukrainian refugees to come and stay with host families here in the UK. Our role is to support both hosts and guests in the process of settling into life in the UK. We aim to offer a warm welcome to those who have come here fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
What does a typical day look like in this role?
As a brokerage officer, my day can vary quite a bit. One of the main parts of my role is to conduct welfare home visits with Ukrainian guests and their hosts. We travel all around the county, sometimes seeing several families in one day. We want to offer the best service possible to those who really need it. Once back in the office, I make sure to update our systems with important data and compose communications with the guests we have seen and their host families. We tailor our letters, so the content relates to what we discussed on our visits. My letters might contain anything from information about driving in the UK to how to register for a dentist. Some days, I am answering phone calls and reading emails that come in via our helpline and Ukraine inbox. I am always looking for new ways that I can help the Ukrainians I am working with and their hosts. Every day is different and definitely never dull.
How do I work across the community to connect Ukrainians and host families?
One area I have been focussing on is community connection and I have enjoyed working closely with colleagues in the community development team to help connect Ukrainians and host families with each other. As a team, we also promote and attend welcome events aimed at introducing hosts and guests to all the wonderful resources Warwickshire has to offer. I recently spoke with a councillor from a parish council, and we discussed ways that she could connect her parish with other groups doing similar community connection work. We receive requests and queries via our email inbox and sometimes over the phone from town and parish councils. We always welcome the opportunity to support groups who are offering their own services to host families and their Ukrainian guests as part of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. What kind of ongoing and emergency support do we offer? Sometimes when I offer our 0800 number to people, they seem worried that they will have to wait on hold for a long time or be transferred to another service, but we all answer the phones and the emails personally. We aim to respond to people as quickly as we can and if we do not have the answer immediately, we find out and get back in touch. Though we are not an emergency service, we take our work seriously and there is no question too big, too small, or too silly for us to find out the answer.
What is the best part of this role?
I am relatively new to working for Warwickshire County Council, so I am learning new things every day. It’s a wonderful and exciting place to work. My favourite part of my role is meeting the Ukrainians who have come to live here, and their host families. I feel very lucky to be able to serve in this role and to collaborate with so many others who are working so hard to support this special project.
How can others get involved with this work?
There are several ways to get involved with the work being done on the Homes for Ukraine scheme. If you feel able to host a refugee, you can begin by recording your interest through the government website. The link is: https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine(link is external). This is referred to as an EOI or Expression of Interest. Your local council where you live can then use these expressions of interest to match up refugees with hosts in the area. It is worth noting that you can sponsor a Ukrainian guest but they do not necessarily have to live with you. Not all sponsors are hosts themselves and many of our Ukrainian guests live in separate accommodation owned by the sponsor. If you are interested, it is also worth contacting your local Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Most schemes are run through the county council, but sometimes the scheme is delivered through a district or metropolitan council. Most should have a helpline or email that you can contact to ask further questions about hosting either a new guest or one that has been in the UK but may need to move to a new host. Parish councils and voluntary organisations are doing a great deal of work to the support the Homes for Ukraine Scheme so if you would like to volunteer your time to help with community events or other outreach, it is worth checking with organisations like the Rotary or Lions Club or your local town or parish council to see if there are projects you may be able to assist with. In Warwickshire, we have a FaceBook page that keeps hosts and guests up to date on the latest support available.
Liubov and Vitali are two Ukrainian guests who live near to Meghan and who have become friends.