RBWM Ukraine aid charity seeks company support

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

A charitable organisation in the Royal Borough that is guiding hosts and Ukrainians through the Homes for Ukraine scheme is asking for support from companies to help it keep going.

Safeplaces RBWM set up recently as a matching service for hosts and Ukrainians coming to the Royal Borough and has been working to become a first point of contact.

But its request for funding from the Royal Borough has so far been unsuccessful, as the figure was not considered
reasonable, Safeplaces said.

“All the volunteers are doing a great job but we have got to be able to sustain it,” said Arti Sharma-Grey of Safeplaces RBWM.

“If we don’t get the funding [from the council] we’re not going to be able to do as much as we can. It’s a dire situation. We want a partnership with them, we really want to work with them.”

A spokesman for the Royal Borough said: “Safeplaces has made a substantial request for 40 per cent of the Government funding intended to be used by the council to help Ukrainians.

“This request, while well-intentioned, would unfortunately take away from the basic services for these families.”

The borough said it has ‘responded proactively’ to the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, and taken steps including producing a welcome guide and liaising with schools and health service to register news arrivals.

A spokesman added the council has ‘specific statutory duties such as housing and safeguarding checks’, and is recruiting two dedicated in-house welfare officers to visit all participating households.

Safeplaces is concerned that there are too few members of staff working on this – hence the advantage of a closer
partnership.

The organisation, which is in the process of becoming a charity, also raised concerns that people coming into the country are left in limbo while waiting for benefit payments.

In some cases, difficulties getting onto Universal Credit has left Ukrainians with only £400 of interim payments to last five weeks.

“I’m not sure how they can survive on that,” said Terri Markham-Wilson of Safeplaces.

A borough spokesman said: “The Government is providing councils with some funding for services to support Ukrainian families, and we’re liaising with several community and voluntary groups around extra support they can offer.

"For example, families in immediate need for basics can access established charitable organisations such as the Slough Refugee Support, Community Fridges and Citizens’ Advice Bureau where vouchers can be obtained for local foodbanks.”

Safeplaces says that it currently needs local companies to help it support hosts and Ukrainians.

The team is happy to visit any company to talk about what the organisation is doing.

To raise money, One Upon a Bus – Arti’s interactive storytelling bus for children – will be at the Odney Club for the Cookham Festival on May 14 and May 15.

Book tickets at tinyurl.com/mrx9mhy9 or donate to Safeplaces RBWM at gofund.me/a74706f4

Safeplaces RBWM featured on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday to talk about its work. See www.safeplacesRBWM.org.uk for information.

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