By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
A Ukrainian refugee was kicked out of her sponsor’s home in Croydon just one month after arriving in the country from her war-torn home.
The woman claims she spent only a week with her intended sponsor before they went on holiday for three weeks, and was given unusable food vouchers by Croydon council.
When the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, arrived in England from Kyiv, she was told by her host that they would be going on holiday, so she was sent to live with a friend of the sponsor. She was with the friend for a total of three weeks.
The 47-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We were registered at Croydon Town Hall, then she gave me a surprise and said she was going on holiday.”
After her host returned from holiday, the Ukrainian woman lived with her for a week before she was kicked out without notice, she claims.
She said: “Now I think she didn’t want me, she only wanted a refugee to get the money. She promised she would help me get a job and help me write my CV, but she didn’t.”
She was a trained estate agent in Ukraine but said she has struggled to find work without having a UK driving licence.
This week, the woman was placed in a hostel by Croydon council but has since moved to another Homes for Ukraine host in north London – a move she sorted out herself through Facebook.
With the help of a refugee advocate, the woman has had a couple of meetings with Croydon council. She claims the authority tried to refer her to its homelessness team but she felt she should be rehoused with another sponsor.
The Ukrainian refugee also said she was given a £40 Tesco voucher so she could get food while staying in the hostel, but discovered it had no money on it. This meant she only ate biscuits and tea provided by the hostel.
The woman said: “In England life is not hard for me but I never could imagine that this would happen with a sponsor. I am so distressed, I feel I have no help.”
The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched by the Government in March. Funding of £10,500 per person is given to local councils to support the refugees.
This money goes towards carrying out DBS checks of sponsors, carrying out checks of the properties, a £350 thank you payment to sponsors and £200 per guest to support them as they settle.
A Croydon council spokesman said: “It is rare for a placement to breakdown, but should it happen our Homes for Ukraine team will always support both sponsors and guests, and work with guests to ensure they understand their options for finding alternative accommodation.”
Pictured top: Croydon town hall Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Tadie88