FAMILIES in Surrey have given homes to more than 3,000 Ukrainian families since the Russian invasion 12 months ago last Thursday – the second highest number of 152 council areas in England.

The Homes For Ukraine scheme has been whole-heartedly supported in the county, and Surrey County Council continues to provide support for refugees fleeing the fighting in Ukraine one year later.

Communities, councils, voluntary, charitable and faith groups across Farnham, Haslemere and further afield have been determined to ensure Ukrainian guests are welcome.

Their integration has been eased with friendship, language courses, help with finding employment, welcoming children into schools and general assistance with navigating everyday life in the UK.

But despite this response from the people of Surrey, UK host families are still needed who can help provide a home for Ukrainian refugees.

Host families can claim ‘thank-you’ payments for hosting Ukrainian families, now up to £600 per month.

This new, increased payment aims to reflect the generosity of Surrey residents and help those who step forward to manage with increased cost of living expenses.

The increased rate will be available until March 2024.

In addition to the above, it has also been agreed that from this week Ukrainians who have come over on the Homes for Ukraine visa will be able to apply for a further three-month free bus pass for the operator of their choice, in an extension of the current scheme.

Existing pass holders can apply for a three-month extension, whilst new applicants will be offered a six-month pass. For further information see: https://tinyurl.com/3jp4u67a

Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said: “As we mark a year since Ukraine was so brutally invaded – a despicable act that required a global response – it is important to note Surrey’s particular role in helping the people of that great country.

“There is an extensive network already established in Surrey that helps these families to gain their independence, and begin to feel at home, during their stay in the UK.

“We are rightly proud of our communities here in Surrey, and we will continue to do all we can to foster that enthusiasm and spirit for making the world – and our corner of it – a better place.”

Anyone interested in supporting Ukrainian families can visit https://tinyurl.com/3ykbeed3