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Ukrainian refugees ‘unsettled’ by their visa worries, survey suggests

22 September 2023

Nadiia Krotko and her family who completed the survey in July

Nadiia Krotko and her family who completed the survey in July

UKRAINIAN refugees living in the UK are worried about the impermanence of their settlement in the country, a survey commissioned by the Sanctuary Foundation has found.

For many, this week marks the halfway point of three-year visas. In a survey of 3118 Ukrainian refugees living in the UK, conducted in July and published last week, 90 per cent said that they felt either very or slightly unsettled about reaching this point.

And two-thirds of respondents (1863) said that they would feel “very relieved” if the Government announced an extension of Ukrainian visas for another year, on request. One third said that they would feel slightly relieved.

The uncertainty of the duration of visas had a negative impact on several areas of life for respondents. These included finding employment, which affected two-thirds (67 per cent); school decisions for children (40 per cent); mental health (35 per cent); finding or keeping accommodation (25 per cent); and language learning (45 per cent). In written answers, some said that the lack of certainty had dramatically affected their housing status, because they were unable to buy a home in the UK.

One said: “It is impossible for me and my fiancée to plan our lives. As it’s still very unsafe to return to Ukraine, feeling like we can be thrown out of UK at any moment is severely unpleasant. I’m renting a flat, and have become a sponsor for my 58-year-old mother. I wanted to bring her to the UK, to safety, to take her out from under missile attacks in Ukraine. So it’s the lives of two more people I’m responsible for now, and not knowing the future is daunting.”

Another said: “I am really worried that our visas may not be prolonged. I cannot plan anything in the long-term.”

Most respondents (1451, 47 per cent) were aged 34 to 44, with 703 (23 per cent) aged 25 to 34. Almost 90 per cent (2722) were female. More than one third of refugees were currently settled in the south-west or south-east of England (1122, 37 per cent). About 12 per cent were settled in London.

The Sanctuary Foundation was set up by Dr Krish Kandiah after the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, to assist potential sponsors and community groups, businesses, and churches that wanted to support newly arrived refugees.

In June, the charity launched a short, free online training course to discuss issues of refugee safety, well-being, and support after trauma (News, 10 June 2022).

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