Useful Information for Ukrainians

This page lists useful information for Ukrainian guests and their hosts helping them to settle in. Should you have any questions, or would like to add new information, please contact us at camruss4ukraine@gmail.com.

We have prepared a list of topics for your convenience.

  • Visas
  • Finance
  • Housing
  • Food – *new details added
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Benefits
  • Transport
  • Daily Essentials – *new details added
  • Pets
  • Useful Links

VISAS

Visa Progress

Currently you are unable to check visa progress online. You can call the free 24/7 helpline on +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 from within the UK) for help with any questions about the scheme. If you cannot contact UK 0808 numbers, please use +44 (0)175 390 7510.

3-year Visa

To extend your stay for up to the three years allowed under this scheme, you will need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit. You will not need to provide this immediately, but you must have completed your application and provided the biometric information required within your first six months in the UK. Information can be provided using the UK Immigration ID Check app or at one of applications centres in the UK.

You can obtain a BRP (biometric residence permit) at a post office.

FINANCE

Opening a bank account in the UK 

To open a bank account in the UK, you usually need proof of permanent address. NatWest and RBS are now advising that for guests from Ukraine, this requirement for proof of permanent address may not be necessary – especially where a visa can be presented instead. Other banks are advising that they have colleagues ready to help new arrivals (such as HSBC and Santander).

Online banks such as Revolut and Monzo offer to set up accounts without a visit, and require a phone number, a physical address and a Ukrainian passport or identity card. They verify your address simply by sending you a physical card; once you activate it, your address is proven. While Monzo does not open an account until the card activation, Revolut works with some limitations even without activating a physical card. Accounts normally can be opened free of charge, however the bank might charge you for card issuance and delivery.

It is highly recommended to open an account in any bank after your arrival as soon as possible. After opening your first bank account, it will become much easier to open the next.

£200 payment per Ukrainian guest

Each guest will be given £200 from the Government. This is intended to help with initial costs such as buying food and other essentials. As soon as the guests have arrived at the host’s house, the host should notify Cambridge City Council of the arrival. They will ask you to provide the guests’ bank details. They will then make the £200 payment per guest. Where appropriate, they will make all payments for one family into one bank account.

If they cannot open a bank account, they should let Cambridge City Council know when completing the form after their arrival. Council will be able to provide them with a pre-paid card to use in shops or online. For urgent questions about this payment, please contact ukrainepayments@scambs.gov.uk

Proof of address

Proof of address is a very commonly used kind of identity document in the UK. For example, you will likely need it for opening a bank account, applying for benefits, documents, jobs, and so on. Essentially, proof of address is a UK alternative for the Ukrainian system of residence registration (propiska). However, instead of notifying authorities about changing your place of residence you just need to prove where you live once asked.

Normally these documents count as proof of address:

  • tenancy agreement from local council or housing association
  • bank statement
  • UK driving licence, full or provisional
  • letter from Department for Work and Pensions with your National Insurance number
  • tax documents
  • utility bills

Some organizations may not accept some of documents listed above, some may accept documents that are not listed. Driving licences and bank statements are most likely to be accepted. Please note that some proofs of address may have expiration date, that depends on requirements of a certain organization / government body.

Free travel to your host’s house

Your host may be able to help you travel to their home. If not, guests are eligible for one free journey using trains, buses or coaches to travel to your host’s home. You will only need to show your Ukrainian passport and boarding pass, or ticket showing arrival into the country within the last 48 hours. For more information see the Ukrainian Displaced Persons Travel Scheme

HOUSING

Guest arrival and house check

Shortly after arrival at sponsors home a representative from the local council will visit, please also email the local Council to let them know when the guests arrive and how many also. 

Housing costs 

If refugee family can’t afford to pay rent (although please note host accommodation providers via the Homes for Ukraine scheme should not be charging any rent), they can apply for assistance with housing costs via Universal Credit. This can take up to six weeks to come through and might not cover all of the rent. Local council Housing Advice team can work with refugees to support them to remain with family or to secure alternative accommodation. If help is needed to pay a rent deposit, or rent in advance, contact Housing Advice team.

Help if refugee is at risk of homelessness 

If a guest from Ukraine has arrived in the UK, but now is at risk of becoming homeless – for instance if the relationship between a guest and the host has broken down – it is important to act as soon as possible. They can contact local Council team.

Finding accommodation

If you encounter unreasonable refusals from agencies or property owners, please write to the local council about it. Only knowing about your problems, they will be able to understand how best to solve them. Here is the contact address for residents of Cambridge: housing.advice@cambridge.gov.uk. Please use this address, if you live in South Cambridgeshire: housingadvice@scambs.gov.uk. Those who want to find a new sponsor (for various reasons), those who are left without housing, or are at risk of remaining homeless in the future, should write to the same addresses.

If you live in other areas of Cambridgeshire, such as East, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Fenland, please Google: housing advice East Cambridgeshire (for example) and look for contacts of your housing department.

If, when renting a property, you are asked to provide guarantors, you can consider these companies that provide such guarantees for tenants on a paid basis: Housing Hand and UK Guarantor. Read more about rental guarantees here.

You can search for people to share a house/apartment with on this platform.

You can also find accomodation by moving in with a person who agrees to provide an empty room in his house on certain conditions. Typically, such programmes focus on older people who need care and companionship. If you are interested in such programmes, please see the requirements here.

Local councils can help you pay rental deposit, if certain conditions are met. More information here.

Please download a detailed guide in Ukrainian on what to keep in mind when renting a property in the UK.

FOOD

Food Banks and Food Hubs

The hosts may wish to support refugees with food and other essentials, but they are not required to do so. If refugees do not have food or other essentials provided and do not have access to money to buy what they need, they can visit local Foodbank and Food Hubs. This shows a map of different types of foodbanks or food hubs in the area. Foodbanks and Food Hubs exist across the country, and many offer other essentials as well as food for free.

To receive products in Food Banks, you must have a voucher or referral. To receive vouchers, you need to register at the number: 08082082138 – a hotline for people in difficult situations. They provide an interpreter. They will write down the data for registration and issue a voucher (one-time code) with which you can receive a set of products in the food bank. You will be told where the nearest food bank is located. You can come to any other with the same code, different places work on different schedules. Full information about the addresses and working hours of food banks can be found on Google by writing “food banks near me”.

You can get food in the Food Bank no more than once a week. You can come at least once a month, at least every week. You may need a code to get Food Bank, these codes are disposable, so you will need a new code each time. Getting a new code is easier as your details are already in the council database.

As for Food Hubs, you don’t need a voucher. You can just come and get groceries. These are charitable organizations that accept donations from supermarket chains and individuals.

Please note that Food Banks have a larger selection of products. Food Hubs often give out expired products. Here you can find bread, vegetables and other daily essentials (not only food).

Please note that “Best Before” is about quality, not safety. Meat and dairy products past their “Use By” dates should not be used.

The full list of food hubs can be found here.

Free cooked meals

List of places in Cambridge that provide free hot food:

  • FoodCycle, Saturdays, 12:30, St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church (vegetarian meal with a chance to sit down and chat)
  • C3 Church, Fridays, 12:30, C3 Centre, Coldhams Lane, Cambridge CB1 3HR (pay-what-you-can meal – if you have no money, you can eat for free)
  • Cambridge Community Kitchen (The Lockon, by the Grafton Centre), collection 18:00-18:30, delivery (CB1 to CB5 postcode districts) 18:30-20:00 (free, hot, vegan meals)
  • St Paul’s Simple Supper, Mondays, 18:00, St Paul’s Cambridge, Hills Road

NHS Healthy Start Card 

If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. Find out more here.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. We’ll add your benefit onto this card every 4 weeks. Download detailed information in Russian and Ukrainian.

HEALTHCARE

Free access to NHS healthcare

Ukrainian refugees are guaranteed free access to NHS healthcare on a similar basis as other UK residents – including, for instance, the offer of COVID-19 vaccines and medical screenings. This covers any NHS treatment that started on or after 24 February (the date the full-scale Russian invasion began). This includes NHS dentistry. New arrivals should register in the same way as resident citizens. For more detail, please visit the NHS website.

Useful healthcare links:

Coronavirus vaccination – there is a walk-in vaccination site at Grafton Centre.

Coronavirus testing – The UK Health Security Agency has added Ukrainian translations to the guidance on COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit instructions.

Mental health hotline (free support) – dial 111 option 2

Barnado’s, the national children’s charity Ukrainian Support Helpline Barnardo’s has set up a Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service to anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Barnardo’s free helpline (0800 148 8586) is staffed by English, Ukrainian and Russian speakers, to offer support to children and families arriving in the UK from Ukraine. The helpline is open Monday to Friday (10am to 8pm) and Saturday (10am to 3pm). Callers will be able to get help and advice on a range of issues. You can also email the team or find out more on the Barnardo’s website.

Emotional Support: It is common to feel a lot of different emotions after leaving your homeland. The British Red Cross can support you, with help in more than 200 languages. It helps people who are lonely, worried and finding it hard to get the help they need in the UK. Call them on  0808 196 3651  (open daily 10am – 6pm) and you can ask for an interpreter if you need one. If you are feeling very distressed, call The Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

EDUCATION

Children of families who come to the UK under the Government schemes are entitled to a school place. In England you are required to ensure that any of your children aged 5 to 16 receive a full-time education. Children will normally begin to attend school, full-time, in the September after their fourth birthday but you have the option of taking up a place part-time until the start of the term immediately after the child turns 5. Alternatively, they can keep your child at home or in nursery while they are 4 and apply for their child to start school from the start of the term following their fifth birthday – although their choice of school may be more limited. It is likely, at least in the first year, that they will need to apply for ‘in-year’ admissions.

Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for education in Cambridgeshire. Please visit the Cambridgeshire County Council website and especially this page for information on how to apply for a school place for your child.

Useful links on Education:

Here is a link to download the presentation slides on the UK higher education system, prepared by Professor Caroline Humphrey as part of the social and cultural adaptation programme of the Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society.

Higher education:

Online courses

Libraries

Please download the guide on how to enrol in the Cambridgeshire Libraries in English and Ukrainian.

EMPLOYMENT

Share Code

Share Codes are from the government and prove your rights e.g. right to work. To get a share code online apply here.

National Insurance Number

If you do not have a National Insurance number, you can find information on how to get one here. When you make an application, you will need to give a copy of your passport and proof that you have the right to work.

Volunteering: Ukrainian refugees are allowed to volunteer without it impacting their benefits

Useful Links for Employment

Work as a Teacher

To work as a teacher, anyone with degree or diploma that is not a teaching qualification needs to complete the annual PGCE courses (Postgraduate Certificate in Secondary Education). As a rule, the first step in the career path to working as a teacher is the position of Teaching Assistant. You can view jobs for teachers here. It is also useful to look at websites of specific schools. Here is an example of vacancies in a school.

Work as a Medic or Pharmacist

Work in care homes for the elderly: People are always sought for these roles, the main requirement is at least an average knowledge of English. You can look for work in care homes for the elderly by searching for care home jobs, nursing home jobs and care assistant jobs,  then add your location, such as Cambridgeshire or Cambridge.

BENEFITS

Guests will be able to access Benefits on a similar basis as other UK residents.

You can use the benefits calculator to find out which benefits you can receive and how to submit documents for them.

You can find out more about Universal Credit on the Government’s website. Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with living costs, which you may be eligible for, if you are on a low income, out of work, or cannot work. Guests will also be eligible for benefits such as Carer’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Disability Benefits and Pension Credit.

Guests are entitled to claim Child Benefit immediately (rather than having to wait for the usual 3-month qualifying period). People who wish to claim should complete a CH2 Child Benefit claim form and submit this by post to the Child Benefit office. The address is included on the form. They will need to provide an original birth certificate and the passport or travel document used to enter the UK. Where this documentation is not immediately available, people are advised to include a note in their claim and someone from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will be in touch to discuss further.

Anyone wanting more information on Child Benefit can visit GOV.UK or call 0300 200 3100 (from inside the UK).

DAILY ESSENTIALS

Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme

The Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (Cambridgeshire County Council) could support refugees with access to low cost reused and refurbished household items, clothing and food vouchers. Please contact clas@cambridgecab.org.uk for further information.

Charity shops

In charity shops you can buy very cheap clothes, children’s toys, plates, mugs etc. There are many of them in Burleigh Street off Grafton Centre, including British Heart Foundation, RSPCA, Cancer Research, Oxfam, British Red Cross, Scope and Mind.

Free goods in Cambridge, where families can source items themselves

*Re safety issues for electrical goods – we advise families go through charities that PAT test them – Emmaus and the British Heart Foundation

Reasonably priced second hand goods

Emmaus Charity in Landbeach offers discounted and sometimes free items to CRRC registered families. Their electrical goods are PAT tested. *You need to be persistent and keep ringing or emailing as they are very busy but they are the cheapest, have the largest second hand stock, plus offer good value new mattresses.

British Heart Foundation can be more expensive than other charity shops but they do have PAT tested items.

Cambridge ReUse is online or you can visit their shop where there is more choice, nice quality and cheaper than other charity shops often

Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace of course.

Beyond the gift economy

Helpful community information – CB4 People Facebook

PETS

For all queries relating to bringing pets into the country you need to contact The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). You can email ukrainepettravel@apha.gov.uk and let them know that you want to bring your pet with you. If you want to speak to them by phone, call +44 3000 200 301 in working hours (select 2 and 2 in the voice menu). The waiting time on the line may be up to an hour.

TRANSPORT

Trains

Buses

Driving Licence

You must have both a full driving licence and in date motor insurance to drive a vehicle on UK roads.

If you have a full driving licence issued in Ukraine, you may use this licence to drive small vehicles (such as motorcycles, cars, and vehicles up to 3500kgs or with up to eight passenger seats) for up to a year in the UK. The licence must cover the vehicle being driven and must still be valid.

To continue to drive after this, you must obtain a provisional driving licence and pass a UK driving test before the 12 months ends.

Getting a British driving license

PROVISIONAL LICENSE: As long as you have entitlement to stay in the UK for more than 6 months and have BRP you can apply for a provisional license. If you have your BRP you DO NOT need to wait 6 months to apply for a provisional license. You can apply as soon as you hold BRP and have leave to remain for up to three years.

You are entitled to drive in the UK for up to 12 months with Ukrainian license. If the license is from before 2021 it will not specify manual or automatic. DVLA noted they would take drivers word on this BUT when the license is exchanged for a UK license they will only issue a UK AUTOMATIC car license.

Currently it takes up to four weeks for a license to be exchanged and, the exchange MUST be completed BEFORE the 12 months expire otherwise there would be a break in license validity. So, if you want to exchange Ukraine license for an automatic car UK license then on current timescales you must apply for the exchange at around 10 months. For both cases: the original BRP MUST be sent as part of the application.

The cost is £43 for license exchange via a form D1 from the Post Office and £34 for provisional if applying online. In both cases the DVLA will return your BRP via second class post. If you want you can post your application from the Post Office and ask them to include a tracked return envelope (you will need to pay extra) and the DVLA will then use this to return your documents.

You will also need a passport photo.

Information for people arriving in their own vehicle

Please read the detailed guide here. Current rules allow owners of cars registered abroad to drive them for six months. You do not need to pay road tax if you have paid it in the country where you registered the vehicle. The key requirement is that the car must be insured.

Free courses for people who have a driving licence and want to adapt to driving in the UK – find out more

Cycling

  • Please download a Russian-language guide for new cyclists in Cambridge here.
  • Second-hand reconditioned bikes can be purchased here.
  • For free bike repairs write to Dan.Eaton@papworthtrust.org.uk.

On September 23, 2022 our volunteers – an experienced car enthusiast and a long-time cyclist – talked about everything related to vehicles: buying, registering, insuring and servicing cars; the procedure for passing the driving test; purchase and repair of bicycles, as well as the rules of the road. The presentation from the meeting can be viewed here.

USEFUL LINKS

Official Information from UK Government

Cambridge City Council

Other useful organisations and links

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