In Somerset, we welcome you in seeking a safe home in our communities. The information below will help you access things that are important to everyday life. You can also get support to access these things from your host and from your local council.
Support after your arrival
You will be given a welcome pack full of information and will be visited by local services to make sure that you are getting the care and support that you need.
The welcome guide includes information on what you need to know in the first few days, getting used to life in the UK including how to find a home, access essential public services, healthcare, find work and childcare and education services. It also includes specific information for those arriving on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Welcome packs and translations
- Welcome a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK
- Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK – English version
- Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK – Ukrainian version
- Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK – Russian version
- Homes for Ukraine: welcome guide for Ukrainian children under 18
You will be contacted after your arrival and invited to a welfare check. This check will take place in a community setting by Somerset Council’s welfare provider. The support payment of £200 will be paid at this welfare check or soon after.
Health and wellbeing
Translated health guides
- How the NHS works: a guide for migrants – English version
- How the NHS works: a guide for migrants – Ukrainian version
- How the NHS works: a guide for migrants – Russian version
- Translated health information for patients
- Coronavirus testing guides in other languages
Registering with a doctor
All Ukrainian arrivals are entitled to full and free access to the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS is highlighting the importance of children and young people registering with a General Practitioner (GP), so they can access treatment, vaccinations, and mental health support.
To help you register with GPs, the NHS have developed bilingual registration forms and is reminding parents that proof of address or other forms of identification are not required when registering.
You can also find out how to register with a doctor on the NHS website.
- Somerset’s Mental Health Alliance – Open Mental Health offers free support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can provide a space for emotional support, listening and access to extra mental health support where it is needed. If you need to speak to someone, please contact Mindline Somerset on 01823 276892 or freephone 0800 138 1692. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
- NHS Every Mind Matters also has expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing
- You may find this free Calm app useful for Meditation and Sleep
- Ukrainian and English support message
- World Health Organisation – Doing what matters in times of stress – Ukrainian version
- World Health Organisation – Doing what matters in times of stress – English version
Getting your children into school or college
Schools and admissions authorities have a set of admission arrangements and an admissions code that must by law be followed.
The in-year school admissions process outlined on the Somerset Council website must be followed.
Applications must be signed by family members with parental responsibility and admissions authorities will not be able to accept applications signed by the sponsor.
There will be some instances when the local school or schools are full. In these situations, the local authority can provide information on alternative places within statutory walking distance. You can email enquiries to email@example.com
Statutory walking distances are 2 miles up until the age of 8, and 3 miles for aged 8 and over. Where it is not possible to offer a place within statutory walking distance transport will be provided to the nearest school with an available place.
Financial support and banking
The Government has confirmed that all those arriving from Ukraine will be eligible for £200 per person to help with everyday living expenses. We will confirm how this will be paid to you when the welfare check takes place. Once you are settled, you will be able to apply for further help. Information about this will also be provided during the welfare check. You will also be able to look for a job while you are here.
Following Home Office guidance, all major banks will apply flexibility around proof of address and other supporting documentation requirements in the account opening process. The following banks have set up dedicated pages to support Ukrainian nationals:
- Royal Bank of Scotland – Ukrainian refugee account opening
- NatWest Bank Accounts – Ukrainian Refugees
- Ulster Bank Northern Ireland
- Virgin Money UK
Further information on the types of accounts available can be found at MoneyHelper – Banking. The Home Office’s Welcome! A guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK also provides information on accounts that be suitable.
You get Child Benefit if you are responsible for bringing up a child who is:
- under 16
- under 20 if they stay in approved education or training
Anyone coming to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme or Homes for Ukraine scheme is entitled to claim Child Benefit immediately, rather than having to wait for the usual 3-month qualifying period.
If you wish to claim, you should complete a Child Benefit claim form and submit this by post to the Child Benefit office. The address is on the form.
You should provide an original birth certificate and the passport or travel document used to enter the UK. Where this documentation is not immediately available, you are advised to include a note in your claim and someone from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be in touch with you.
Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child. It is paid every 4 weeks and there is no limit to how many children you can claim for.
You can also phone Child Benefit on 0300 200 3100.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It is paid monthly.
You can also phone Universal Credit on 0800 328 5644 (for enquiries, or if you have no access to the internet)
Impact on Universal Credit payments for guests leaving the UK
Following a number of enquiries, we have been asked to make clear the rules on Universal Credit payments should guests leave the UK. We have been informed that if families are in receipt of Universal Credit, you will need to notify the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) if you leave the country, regardless of the length of time you are away. There seems to be a misunderstanding that trips of less than 4 weeks overseas do not need to be declared. If you do not notify the DWP you have left the country, and fail to attend a JobcentrePlus appointment while abroad, your Universal Credit may be sanctioned.
We encourage you to speak with your local job centre if you are planning to leave, and in addition, to update the Homes for Ukraine Team if you will be out of the country for more than 4 weeks.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can help with extra living costs if you have both:
- a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
- difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
You can get PIP even if you are working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
You can also phone Personal Independence Payments on 0800 917 2222.
Carers Allowance – you could get £67.60 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits.
Pension Credit – Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you are over State Pension age and on a low income.
You can also phone Pension Credit on 0800 99 1234.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Disability Living Allowance for children (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:
- is under 16
- has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability
You can also phone Disability Living Allowance on 0800 121 4600.
Attendance Allowance helps with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you and you are over state pension age.
Send the completed form to: Freepost DWP Attendance Allowance.
You can also phone Attendance Allowance on 0800 731 0122.
Working in the UK
You will be eligible to work in the UK on your visa. It is important that you know your rights and entitlements if you do work.
Ukrainians Welcome – Your safe stay in the UK is a new website bringing together resources for Ukrainian nationals displaced to the UK which gives the option in English or Ukrainian. It is part of an initiative from anti-slavery groups aimed at keeping Ukrainian refugees safe from trafficking and helping them to safely navigate life in the UK.
Most Ukrainians have been given 36 months right to remain in the UK. This entitles you to claim benefits and work. If you have claimed Universal Credit, you will need to apply for a Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) as proof for your employer that you can work. However, some employers are accepting the stamp on the passport.
A National Insurance (NI) number is used to make sure your National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against your name only. This is made up of letters and numbers and never changes.
You can look for and start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You can prove you have the right to work in the UK by showing your employer either your Biometric Residence Permit or your visa in your passport.
Employers are required to conduct mandatory Right to Work checks on all prospective employees. Having a National Insurance number is not part of these checks, and the possession of a National Insurance number does not prove that an individual has a right to work. The employer you want to work for will tell you what documents you need to show.
If you do not have a National Insurance number, you can find further information on how to apply for a National Insurance number. You will be advised of the documents you will need to provide when making your application.
- The Mobile Phone provider, Three, has rolled out a support package for Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK. You will be able to get a free, 30-day, pay as you go SIM card with unlimited UK calls and texts, and free calls and texts from the UK to Ukraine
- Vodafone is offering free SIMs for 6 months. These can only be accessed by charities supporting people (not limited to Ukrainians)
- Virgin Media O2 offers support to those affected by events in Ukraine. They have also removed data charges for data use in Ukraine, and will credit charges for calls and texts to and from Ukraine and the UK for their customers
Free driving courses
The AA is offering Ukrainian refugees a free Drive Confident refresher course from AA Driving School and BSM.
In Ukraine, people drive on the other side of the road, and it is unlikely that many Ukrainians will be familiar with UK signs, or restrictions like the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zones.
English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
Somerset Skills and Learning have free education and wellbeing support for refugees in Somerset.
CHARIS ESOL – The classes are taught by qualified ESOL teachers, with volunteers to assist, giving students plenty of opportunities to practice speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. More courses are being set up, in response to the demand. Please check the CHARIS website for further information regarding classes.
Diversity Voice ESOL – Free English Lessons
- Qualified teachers
- Free face-to-face lessons
- Meet new friends
- Online learner club on social media
- Fun, friendly classes
Now open all day on Wednesdays in Bridgwater
Other English Learning Resources
Language support for Ukrainians
If you are a Ukrainian arriving in Somerset, Diversity Voice can help with free interpreting and translation services for your languages which is crucial while getting used to life in the UK, accessing essential public services, healthcare, finding work and childcare and education services.
Phone: 0300 075 0105
Finding your own accommodation
After leaving your sponsor’s home, you will be able to rent a property like anyone else. If you need to, you will be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit, or Housing Benefit. The UK Government has useful information on renting property.
Bernardo's free helpline to support Ukrainian families
The conflict in Ukraine has caused families to forcibly leave their homes, in search of safety, with many arriving in the UK.
In response to this, following discussion with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Barnardo’s has set up the Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service. The helpline is available to anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Contact Barnardo’s free helpline on 0800 148 8586. The phone line is staffed by English, Ukrainian and Russian speakers, to offer support to children and families arriving in the UK from Ukraine.
The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm, and Saturday, 10am to 3pm. Callers will be able to get help and advice on a range of topics.
More information and guidance
- Email to guests – Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
- Ukrainians Welcome – Your safe stay in the UK
- Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK (English)
- Somerset Skills and Learning free education and wellbeing support for refugees in Somerset
- Libraries supporting new arrivals – Information available in both English and Ukrainian
- Embassy of Ukraine to the United Kingdom
- Red Cross – Help for Ukrainian nationals
- Travel advice to and from Ukraine
- Ukraine – useful national and local information
- Community Council for Somerset (CCS) – support for Ukrainian refugees
- Summer holiday activities – Find things to do for children here
Taunton Guides created by Homes for Ukraine – Somerset (Facebook group), Laura Hogevold and Yuliya Wallis