Camden preparing to welcome refugees from Ukraine

Camden is preparing to welcome people fleeing the war in Ukraine, after the Government began to release details about the UK's plans to take in refugees.

The Leader of Camden Council, Councillor Georgia Gould, has released the following statement: 

Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council

We are devastated to see the continuing human suffering and destruction caused by the war in Ukraine. 

“Over 2 million people have left Ukraine in the past fortnight. These are mainly women and children fleeing for their lives, leaving their homes and almost all their worldly possessions behind. 

“Camden has always been a place that meets people fleeing conflict with its arms open and a warm welcome. In the last decade we have responded to the wars in Syria and Afghanistan, by committing to house refugees. 

“The Government is setting out a plan to allow ordinary citizens, charities, businesses and community groups to apply to take in Ukrainian refugees into their homes. Camden is ready to step up and help refugees again. We know in a time of crisis Government turns to local government and its partners to deliver for its communities. 

“However, at the current time we have real concerns about the level of detail and support that will be attached to the Government scheme that is needed to enable local councils, community and voluntary organisations to facilitate this in our communities – and to help you get involved if you want to. 

“Firstly, the Government needs to deliver on its commitments made to refugees already in our country. Despite offers of housing from Camden and other local authorities, the national scheme is failing people. Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan have been in hotels for months unable to put down roots and contribute fully to their community. 

“A full support package is needed for Ukrainian refugees. If Government wants local communities to step up and take a lead, we urgently need the resources to support us to do this. We are clear that a welfare offer should be at the heart of the scheme. 

“While we wait for further details from Government on the scheme, we are getting ready here in Camden. Next week, we will bring together some of our key partners, voluntary organisations and community leaders in Camden round one table to consider what our support offer could be to Ukrainian refugees. This will include considering how we can link refugees to the many successful welfare projects in Camden that make such a positive different to the lives of our citizens and how we can welcome Ukrainian refugees into our community. We know we are at our best when we bring our whole community together to respond. 

“I know you will have lots of questions about how you can support refugees. You may be preparing a spare room at this moment and be waiting to apply to the scheme. We will communicate details as soon as we have them. We urge Government to accelerate the scheme, while also pressing them to ensure really important and rigorous safeguarding processes are followed. The safety and welfare of Ukrainian refugees and of the citizens and organisations who house and help them has to be front and centre of this response. 

“For those wondering what they can do right now, I would urge you to donate to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal if you can. Your donation will be used to reach people in urgent need, including providing food, first aid, clean water, shelter support, warm clothing, hygiene parcels and medicines. It will help families or emergency service personnel in Ukraine right now or help fund urgent repair work.

Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council