Ukraine Refugee: How to match with a host
First off, I am so sorry for what is happening to your beautiful country. We stand with Ukraine and will do everything we can to bring as many Ukrainians to safety.
We are also working on translations for this website to make it easier for people to find the help they need in their own language. Hopefully, we can get this into the most frequented languages of the countries where Ukrainians have fled so that charities and support workers can also help you sign up to find a UK host.
*** A lot of Ukrainians on Facebook seem to be asking to be hosted in London or England. While London is a beautiful city it is not the only city in the UK with amazing opportunities available. Please remember the UK is made up of not only England but also Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All of these countries are part of the UK and you are eligible to enter any using the new government scheme.
Right now the only ‘official’ way you can register your interest to come to the UK as a Ukraine refugee is via the UK governments ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. This is newly launched and is updating at rapid speed to try to get you to safety as soon as possible. You can learn more about how Homes for Ukraine works on the government website here.
All of the places I mention here I’ve found through research online (mostly Facebook) and speaking with wonderful men and women who have already gone to the trouble of finding these places and contacting them themselves and getting a result.
Homes for Ukraine
The UK government Homes for Ukraine scheme is the first place to start. At this time there is not much you can do from your side other than read about the scheme here. Unfortunately, the whole webpage is in English only.
***If you want to know anything for sure about the scheme then you must make sure the website is the government one. News stories many not be correct. You can tell if the website is official because it will somewhere have .gov.uk in the name. In the pictures below I have highlighted in yellow to show you what I mean.
This service is for those who have no familial ties to the UK. If you have a relative in the UK you should first see if you can use the Ukraine Family Scheme. This is the website where you can register your application to come to the UK as a refugee or refugee family from Friday 18th March. The Homes for Ukraine website suggests that you use charities, faith groups, or community organizations to find your match. If you still have no match but are desperate to find someone to bring you to safety then you can use some of the websites I have listed below.
Applying via Homes for Ukraine is a necessity (of course you can only do this from March 18th). You must apply to Homes for Ukraine because these is where you’ll find your visa application on Friday. Advice about the scheme can be found in the FAQ.
Homes for Ukraine has now put up a website claiming that this is where they’ll be officially matching Ukrainians with hosts. The website is live but not actually in use just now. They have a link for Ukrainians to register their interest in coming to the UK. You can do that here. Below is a picture of the website and where to find the button to register your interest.
***This is the official government website for matching hosts with fleeing Ukrainians. This is likely to be the only website anyone official in the UK will alert you to but it is just as safe and practical to use any of the other sources below. Just be careful, use common sense and don’t send money to anyone you haven’t spoken to at least by video call to prove their identity.
Websites to find a host match
Slava Ukraini (Ukrainia.space)
Slava Ukraini is offering refugees support in many ways: accommodation, food, medical help, and psychological help.
The website shows postings from hosts and postings from those in need of help. The posts are automatically displayed in multiple European languages to help smooth the process of communications between host and refugee.
If you want to request help you must use the yellow button in the top right. This will allow you to post your request on the website.
This website has been created by people in Poland to help refugees there. Because of this you will find that you’ll probably find more Polish hosts than British at this time. The website is bring promoted on social media to attract more UK hosts every day. Keep checking back to see if you can find something new.
Ukraine Takes Shelter
I am doing my best to work through each of the websites I find, working out which ones are easy to use and which ones are more difficult. Ukraine Takes Shelter is fairly simple in design, exactly what is needed right now. The front page asks you to enter your location.
What will happen is that now you will see hosts near the location you entered. So if you want to get to the UK but you are not here now you should search in this bar for a UK city name. I will make a list below of some popular cities around the UK so you have some ideas for a search term.
This is a random list of cities just to get you started. Hopefully in the coming days I can put together a list of more UK cities, some seaside towns, islands and rural areas in each UK country. You can click here to download the table to use offline.
In the picture above you can see some accommodations that are on offer. After you search for a city or place name this is the page you will see. It is quick and easy to get started and this website is very popular all over the UK news and social media so it will have a lot of UK hosts available. More and more people are signing up to the website every day. If you see a host you like you can click on the advert and you will get more information about the host and you’ll also be able to get their contact information.
Room for Refugees
To get started you can use this form for Ukrainians who want to be accommodated (it sounds like this is for those wanting to come to the UK, but the wording is ambiguous). Since this company has been around for a long time I think some older people in the UK will use this to find someone to sponsor because they know the company can be trusted.
Refugees At Home
Refugees At Home is a UK charity. Their website says they have helped facilitate 200,062 nights of safety for refugees, impressive! The refugee can apply to the website to start the search for a match. I like that you can apply on behalf of the person in need because realistically a lot of people flee war with nothing, no access to the internet to do this themselves. This is another charity who seem to have been established for a long time so will likely have a good reputation with the people in the UK.
Refuge Booking looks like Gumtree and Booking.com had a baby. There is a search bar where you can state the location you want to go and you can add in dates too. It seems simple and easy to find a host.
I had a quick look around the website and on the contact page it showed the company as being based in the USA. When I searched for Edinburgh on the front page there were no adverts to see. Searching for London brought up a lot of adverts so this looks like a good option if you want to go to England’s capital city.
Opora is working with hosts and refugees to create matches. Their website seems to suggest that they are using their networks within Ukraine and the UK to facilitate these matches. I’m not sure if I am understanding that correctly but if so it sounds like there could be slight delays in communication as they (Opora) communicate with groups in both countries. Their overall initiative is really good and they plan to help support Ukrainians financially and long-term to help them create a future in the place they seek refuge.
Both the host and the refuge can apply to the sponsorship scheme, just look out on the webpage for the correct link as they are both quite close together. They have a Facebook and an Instagram, which is something I haven’t actually looked for on the other websites but it was very easy to spot on Opora. From their most recent post, it looks like a lot of people already have discovered Opera!
UPDATE: Opora have since been promoting this link on Facebook to log in/sign up to their service. It is all automated now and hosts and Ukrainians are able to match automatically instead of manually which was the case before.
Shelter for UA
Shelter for UA website looks a little old and a bit glitchy, but I haven’t actually used it properly. The map being so zoomed out put me off.
It seems like you can zoom in and out of the map. The markers on the map are all from a different host. This is helpful for someone who doesn’t know where in the UK they want to go, but maybe they want to look only in Scotland, near the sea or near a big city. When you see an area you might like you can click the marker on the map and it opens up an information page to the left of the map.
You can also use the orange button to seek shelter. This will open some search boxes so you can filter down your search a bit.
Shelter4Ukraine is a pretty simple website. I liked that the application buttons are in Ukrainian and English – useful.
If you simply search for Shelter4Ukraine on the internet there will be multiple websites that show up. If you want to check this one specifically then make sure you use www.shelter4ukraine.eu. The buttons are in English and Ukrainian. You want to use the one to the left that searches for shelter on offer. Use the boxes to enter how many people you are and which country you want to go to.
When the search comes back it looks like the picture above. To see the advert you will have to click on the name of the city which is the words in red. When you click it it will show you a lot of information about the host and give you their contact information too.
*** In the UK our mobile (cell) phone numbers are all 11 digits long. They always begin with 07.
If you want to contact someone in the UK you must add the international code to the telephone number. The UK code is +44. To enter this on your phone you can use 00 instead of +
AirBnb is well-known and used around the world. AirBnb is advertising on their website that they are funding up to 100,000 Ukrainians some short-term accommodation as they flee Ukraine. Unfortunately, feedback on social media from Ukrainians is that when they actually try to access this support it is not actually available. This seems to be true as I also saw reporters trying to reach out to people this had happened to so they could release the story to the media.
However, they have got an option for people to host Ukrainians for free. There is some information about this on their website and you can learn about the eligibility criteria here.
I can help host
I can help host will immediately ask to view your location. This is because their system works from a map.
To use this service, first click start. The pop-up will go away and you can look through the map of the UK to find a host. When the markers are blue with a number in them then you are too zoomed out to see the hosts. The number is how many hosts there are in that part of the UK.
Once you zoom in the markers will begin to change a little. They will go yellow in the middle.
This is now showing the location of specific hosts. Now you can click the yellow marker to learn more about the host and how they can help you. The picture below is what you will see on your screen after you click the yellow marker to learn more.
Right now the contact information is blurred out, but all you have to do is use the eye button and you can see it.
UAPOMOC will likely load on your screen in Polish, don’t worry – in the top right of the screen you can see a Polish flag, click on it and you can change it to the UK flag and the website will then be in English. I guess the idea here is that refugees already in Poland will be assisted by a Polish-speaking volunteer to use the website. The website calls their advertisements or postings ‘notices’.
You can post or view notices relating to so many different topics. You can view notices too, which is a great tool if you’d rather see what is available before you sign up.
Right now they have a lot more offers of help than people seeking it but do not let that put you off. Not everyone’s offer is suited to everyone seeking. Once you click to view notices you can look through postings by refugees without even logging in. You can also get their contact information right away to start your communication. Postings are shown in three languages.
Although the website is in Polish, hosts are from across multiple parts of Europe. It does look like there will usually be more postings from Poland than other areas though.
EU4UA is for hosts and refugees across the whole of Europe. What I mean is, the hosts’ location does not matter as long as it is in Europe. The Ukrainian refugee can then find hosts in the location they desire.
I love that the buttons to select which role you play in the match are the colours of the Ukraine flag. I haven’t particularly searched for the socials of these charities but I found on the EU4UA front page the links for their Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. I think it is always a good sign when a company is active on social media, it gives confidence in their work and that you are choosing an active company to work with. You can see from their posts that they are there on the ground with the refugees. Their website also has a reel of photos on it.
You first need to sign up before you can begin to search for your perfect host.
UA SOS has an impressive list of partners. A lot of them I think are Polish names and I am not sure exactly what the companies do. What I do know is there are a lot of refugees in Poland and having Polish companies on side can only be a good thing.
Once you sign up you can follow through the steps below to get in touch with a host.
It is not clear if they are accepting more refugees who need this special type of help but you can try to email them at: email@example.com.
Help for refugees (ukrainesupport.net)
Help for refugees (ukrainesupport.net) is quite useful as it can be accessed in numerous languages. There are six languages available: English, Polish, Ukrainian, German, French and Spanish.
I think this website is focused on Poland, but it may help somebody out there. I think it is useful to include it because they offer legal assistance and help with transport too.
UPDATE (17th March): They now have over 10,000 adverts which are offering support to Ukrainians and a lot of them are in English now too.
*** They are offering this advice to Ukrainians about some scams and people taking advantage of refugees in Poland.
Grupazasoby is (according to Google translate) in Bulgarian and means Group of Tools. The white button with ‘Udostepniam nocleg’ is ‘I provide accommodation’ and the yellow button with ‘Szukam noclegu’ means ‘I am looking for accommodation. This one is useful if you want to look for accommodation or help in Bulgaria.
Just Open Arms
Just Open Arms are a European company who literally connect those with open arms with Ukrainian refugees fleeing war. At the very top of the page there are three buttons. Using the dark blue and orange coloured button which says ‘find accommodation‘ will lead you to a page to sign up to the website. Using the dark blue and white button which days ‘available accommodation‘ will take you to the page of postings from hosts. There are hosts from all over Europe offering shelter to Ukraine refugees on here.
Unterkunft is mostly for accommodation in Germany, but the front page does suggest that it is not only German hosts who are using this site to offer somewhere to stay. On the front page you can use the boxes in the top left of the screen to change to the most suitable language. You can view the website in English, German, Ukrainian and Russian. When you follow through to sign up you will fill in the form according to your needs.
Shelter Ukraine are another new website wonderfully pulled together in the last few days to help hosts match with Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war. If you want to change the language you can find the option to do it in the bottom right of the screen. The website can be read in 10 different languages: English, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and (I think) Lithuanian.
The website is so sleek and simple, exactly what we need. I think so far a lot of refugees are becoming confused as to how to actually find people and some of the websites they’ve found too difficult to use.
When you follow through to sign up you’ll need to click on the text that says ‘enter details‘ rather than the button/image that says ‘I have shelter’. Although this may lead you to believe you will be taken to a sign up form – you are not. You’ll land on a page with a list of adverts from hosts. You can use the blue button to learn more about the host and then you’ll see the option to send your details to the host too. A quick scroll down the listing shows that most of the hosts here are from the UK.
Ukraine Support Facebook groups
I’ve started to notice more and more Facebook groups popping up in support of Ukraine. Some are general, but there are more specific groups you can access where local people or charities are posting. For example, Apex Forestry is based in the Scottish Borders, we live and work (office) out of the same address. So initially I’d be inclined to join groups such as Support Ukraine UK Appeal and Scotland 🏴 for Ukraine 🇺🇦 but don’t be afraid to search in the Facebook bar for more local groups. The best way to find them would be using phrases such as “Support Ukraine Scottish Borders” or “Support Ukraine Edinburgh”.
Down the left of the screen is the search results. You can click on groups to make sure you are finding groups that are joinable. This is most likely to be where information regarding sensitive topics is shared because groups can hide posts and information from anyone outside of it.
You can see that some of the groups I mentioned above are showing here, the search will show you anything related to your search and I am going to assume that because I already joined these groups they are making the top of the list.
You might find it hard at this time to know what to search for if you do not know where you want to go. You can start with the general UK hosting groups and inside of those you’ll learn about more.
How to use Ukraine Support Facebook Groups to help
You can simply sit and watch to see what comes up, but if you are desperate to get your name out there and find your sponsor you can create a post of your own with the information you want to share. I saw a really lovely one in one of the Scotland groups, I will share it below but try my best to blot out identifying information.
***This is a post from a host, but a lot of Ukrainians are posting similar adverts to introduce themselves to potential sponsors.
You will probably find that posting in this way will get you a lot of offers from hosts. Make sure to connect with them directly on Facebook messenger to get to know them better before you confirm with anyone. You can talk to multiple people and find out which offer is best for you.
***Please be very careful on what you are posting. Although we would like to think otherwise there will be many people lurking to try and take advantage of others. If you use your best selfie you might find that you’ll get a lot of offers from single men. This is all I will say about it, I just want to say to use common sense.
Dedicated host a refugee Facebook groups
There are some groups dedicated to matching Ukrainian refugees with a host. You’ll be able to find many posted in different languages. It really depends where you are now and where you want to go. You can try searching for different places to see if they have a hosting group set up.
In certain hotspots you’ll find that the right people/charities are involved in setting up the groups on Facebook to get people to safety. I think that watching in Facebook comment sections for these kinds of groups is a really good idea. You might also be able to ask any volunteers where you are now if they can suggest any groups or even post to groups on your behalf. They can feed back messages and information between the host and the refugee (especially important for anyone travelling without a phone or unable to use their phone for whatever reason).
One such group (I believe) is Pomoc dla Ukrainy🇺🇦 Допомога Україні: mieszkanie oraz inna pomoc obywatel. A quick Google translation shows that the group is for “Help for Ukraine🇺🇦 Допомога Україні: housing and other help for a citizen”. Google translate is notoriously bad for its translations so do not take their interpretations are 100% legitimate.
I used Facebook search bar to look for the term “host a Ukraine refugee” and found loads of groups for finding the right host match.
More Facebook groups for matching with sponsors
Facebook public posts
Another quick note about Facebook is it is a rabbit hole for information. You can use the search bar to look for posts that contain the search terms.
You then want to select the ‘posts’ filter on the left side of the screen. Then the posts on the right will appear. You will be able to see any public posts from businesses, charities, individuals and from public groups that are related to your search. This is a good way to find links to new groups or websites but also personal posts from people offering shelter.
I don’t think now you’ll need to use this tactic, because the groups and some websites are so busy and full of sponsorship offers. Right now there are many more hosts posting than there are Ukrainians actually responding to agree to sponsorship. I do think that as more refugees become aware of how to look for hosts this could change and you may find it more challenging to be seen.
I really hope this helps, and I am sure I will find more useful places to find you your match. You can also share this article about finding a remote job so it can help maybe yourself, your friend or family from Ukraine.
If you are a host you can use this article to find out how to sign up and offer your place to stay.