IT’S been a year since the Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched in Gloucestershire, with more than 1,400 guests having been welcomed to date.

The county council is looking back at the impact the scheme has had on displaced Ukrainian families forced to flee their homes following Russia’s invasion last February, and are also hoping to encourage more hosts to sign up to the scheme.

Of those welcomed to the county since the launch on April 1 last year, more than 280 have been school-aged children.

While some have chosen to move on or have gone back to Ukraine, others have stayed and settled in the county, with 380 households currently hosting Ukrainian guests in the county.

One of those to have arrived in Gloucestershire in the past year is mother-of-two Olena, who is in recovery from cancer and needs continuous treatment.

After first being matched to a family in the countryside, they were helped by the Homes for Ukraine team to move to a location which better suited Olena’s needs.

A council spokesperson explained of the family’s situation: “Initially, they lived with a host in a rural area and unfortunately the only work available was physically demanding, like cleaning. The family asked to be rematched, and with support from Gloucestershire’s Homes for Ukraine team, now live with a family, in a more urban area.

“The youngest daughter secured a place at a local school and Olena is being offered job roles which are less physical, helping her to look after her health. The new hosts have a family dog who has become a surprisingly therapeutic influence on Olena and her two girls. As well as a location that better meets their needs, Olena and her girls are living with a bigger family which is giving them even more opportunity to improve their English, learning how to cook new dishes.”

In addition to Homes for Ukraine, Gloucestershire has also welcomed 27 Afghan families and 89 Syrian families to resettle here in recent times.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council said: “It is only right that we help those far less fortunate than ourselves. These families have had their lives turned upside down and have likely lost most, if not all, of what they once owned. With all our partners, we will continue to support people who have been displaced.

“I’m hugely grateful to all of the staff and volunteers involved with welcoming those who resettle in the county and to the hundreds of hosts who have welcomed people from Ukraine into their homes; the scheme would not be able to help so many people without you.”

Anyone interested in supporting someone fleeing war for at least six months is advised to get in touch with the Homes for Ukraine team via [email protected].

Currently, for the first six months of sponsorship, the host is able to claim a £350 monthly ‘thank you’ payment. This rises to £450 after six months and up to £500 after one year.

An optional tax-free ‘thank you’ payment per sponsoring household, per month is also available to hosts who can accommodate one or more guests for up to two years.