Ongoing Conversations for Success

Conversation Guide for Hosts to support and open and transparent relationships

An important part of the relationship between host and Ukrainian guests is an ongoing dialogue covering mutual expectations and plans. Without this dialogue, small differences and mis-understandings can grow into much larger issues and potentially lead to significant difficulties in the relationship. We recommend starting early on to discuss the major topics that will lie at the heart of the guests’ stay. Clearly guests have arrived in a new country, with a new language, to a new home, in a new environment and may have experienced major traumas before arriving. They will need some time to settle, and draw breath. There can be no fixed “best time” to start the conversation, and the host should use their judgement. However, in our experience sooner is better than later.

We suggest in the first two to four weeks to start with:

A. Intent

What is your intent?
Is it to stay in the UK or go back to Ukraine?
It is ok if you don’t know for now but the answer to this question will dictate how we (hosts) can best support you.

Our strong view is that whatever the intent – to stay or return to Ukraine – children should enrol in the local UK school system as soon as possible. This will help enormously with learning English and making friends. Without this social interaction, children are very unlikely to settle and will struggle enormously with being in the UK. If the children struggle, then the whole family will struggle.

B. Work

What is your view regarding work?
When would you like to start work and how can we help you?
What kind of work can we go for together?

Most guests we have talked with are very keen to get into work, and start earning for themselves. However, this is not always the case. We think the hosts should be encouraging independence, and getting out to work, once the guests are settled – within 4 to 6 weeks. Language is a major inhibitor to work. Without English, then job opportunities will be limited. Possible jobs may be less prestigious than people were used to in Ukraine. This is unfortunate, but real. The good news is that as language improves – and work is an excellent way of improving English skills – then the quality of job opportunities can expand quite dramatically. So at first a lower paid, more menial job may be the only possibility. However this can be a stepping stone to much better jobs quite quickly. It helps to make this clear to guests.

Within the first two months:

C. Financial plan for independence

Can we help you structure a plan for financial independence?

This is not in any way a message that we want you out. Actually the reverse… we would like to ensure that:

  • You understand what it takes financially to live independently and we can plan for that;
  • While you are living with us you can save for what you need.

The minimum host commitment under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme is for guests to stay for 6 months. The most common plan we hear is for the guests to remain for about 12 months and at that stage to intend to move to their own accommodation. It is very important to set expectations such as this early on. This provides clarity – guests will definitely be asking themselves what will happen, may well be too anxious to ask, and will live in great uncertainty until it is discussed.

After four months:

Let’s sit down to discuss what we need to do together to get you (and your family) best positioned for living independently.

This means looking at:
a) Where you may want to live in the future
b) What you can afford with the job/s you have
c) How far can the living quarters need to be from points like school
d) What can we do to help
e) That we understand and can hit the required financial goals

It will be very unclear to a Ukrainian family what are the costs of living in the UK. It is hugely helpful to lay out the costs of independent living, so that the guests can understand and plan for this when / if the time comes.

a) Rent for appropriate size accommodation
b) Rental deposit
c) Council tax
d) Utility bills (water, electricity, gas, phone)
e) Car costs (purchase, insurance – we find it to be about £700 per year for first time insurance, car tax)

From what we are beginning to see, we think 6 months is too soon for people to be able to take on this (especially for a family), but 12 months is sufficient.

Ongoing and regular conversation

How is work going for you?
How is money saving going for you?
What do you need from us as support?

This is the most important set of conversations that we recommend. As host, you should add your own. And keep the dialogue going. It should not be a one off, but a series of discussions as there will undoubtedly be questions and changes as you go along.