The war in Ukraine—which kicked into high gear just over a year ago—has driven millions of Ukrainians from their homes and into neighboring European nations. This diaspora took many families to Britain, where a program called Homes for Ukraine connected British volunteers (with spare rooms) with refugee families in need. One year later, 88% of those who welcomed the refugees into their homes reported a willingness to do so again if need be, and eight out of 10 reported it as an overall positive experience, according to polling by More in Common. This refreshing data comes at a time of much contention and prejudice regarding refugees across the UK and Europe.
150,000 Ukrainian refugees have been settled in the UK since the war broke out. More in Common found that 68% of Britons believe this is a good thing whereas only 17% think it is bad. Homes for Ukraine hosts rated the experience at 7.72 out of 10. They reported getting along well with their guests, a high 8.43 out of 10. Unfortunately, many hosts found government support lacking—5.04 out of 10. Luke Tryl, UK director of More In Common, told The Guardian, “The Homes for Ukraine scheme shows Britain at its absolute best. Across the country, tens of thousands of ordinary members of the public have stepped up to offer their home to those fleeing conflict…The priority now must be to make sure that their good will is not abused and that Ukrainian families who understandably want to find their own space and housing are given the support they need from the government to do so.”
Unfortunately, the UK government's lack of support for refugees is a recent theme. They are moving to ban asylum claims by those crossing the channel, while legal routes of entry remain difficult. Even the Ukrainian refugees are now having a tricky time finding independent housing and support. Refugees face may of these difficulties in other European countries as well. As commentators noted in the early days of the Ukrainian war, the majority white European refugee population has been treated significantly better than Middle Eastern and African migrants.
More in Common discovered through polling that three in 10 hosts would support an Afghan refugee currently in hotel accommodation, and seven in 10 would be open to supporting either an Afghan or Ukrainian refugee. However, non-European refugees have not received such a groundswell of sympathy and support as Ukrainian refugees did. One host spoke of his Ukrainian guests, “It’s been hard. But to see the little girl playing in the garden when there’s war going on in her home country and seeing her thriving here will stay with me for ever.” One can hope that political policy will soon follow public sentiment, if people remain willing to open heart and home.
88% Britons who harbored Ukrainian refugee families said in a poll that they would so so again if needed.
h/t: [The Guardian]