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 councils.
Support after your arrival
You will be given a welcome pack full of information and will be visited by local services to ensure 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 pack 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
You will also be contacted after your arrival and invited to a welfare visit. This visit will take place in a community setting by Somerset County Council’s welfare provider. The subsistence payment of £200 will be paid at this welfare visit 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
While you are temporarily living in Somerset, you will be able to register with a local doctor (General Practitioner or GP), as well as a local dentist. You will find out more about this during the home visit mentioned above. You can find out how to register with a doctor on the NHS website
- Open Mental Health offers free support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We 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. Website: Somerset’s Mental Health Alliance – Open Mental Health
- 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
- Word Health Organisation – Doing what matters in times of stress – Ukrainian version
- Word 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 County 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 where 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 the 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 home visit takes place. Once you are settled, you will be able to apply for further help. Information about this will also be provided during the home visit. 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.
Child Benefit – You get Child Benefit if you’re 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 CH2 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’s paid every 4 weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.
Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/child-benefit-claim-form-ch2 (opens claim form which can be completed and printed)
Phone: 0300 200 3100
Other Benefit information
Universal Credit – Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly.
Phone: 0800 328 5644 (enquiries or you have no access to the Internet)
Personal Independence Payment – 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’re working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
Phone: 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’re over State Pension age and on a low income.
Phone: 0800 99 1234
Disability Living Allowance for children – Disability Living Allowance (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
Phone: 0800 121 4600
Attendance Allowance – 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.
Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/attendance-allowance-claim-form (opens claim form which can be completed and printed)
Send the completed form to: Freepost DWP Attendance Allowance
Phone: 0800 731 0122
Working in the UK
You will be eligible to work in the UK on your visa. It’s important that you know your rights and entitlements if you do work. You can find more information about your rights and how to report your concerns in this leaflet.
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 you 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 in 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 one here. You will be advised of the documents you will need to provide when making your application.
Phones and connectivity
- 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 also 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 – Virgin Media O2 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 free Drive Confident refresher course from AA Driving School and BSM to Ukrainian refugees.
In Ukraine, people drive on the other side of the road, and it’s unlikely that many Ukrainians will be familiar with UK signs, or restrictions like the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zones.
English to speakers of other languages (ESOL)
If you are an adult who would like to explore accessing classes that will help you to learn or improve your English, you may be able to find local courses near you on our ESOL Directory.
Somerset Skills and Learning also 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 opportunity 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.
Location: CHARIS, 2a Church Square, Taunton, TA1 1SA
Phone: 07542 567067
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’ll be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. The UK Government has useful information on renting property.
Barnardo's free helpline to support Ukrainian families
The conflict in Ukraine have 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.
Barnardo’s free helpline – 0800 148 8586 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 – 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
- Ukrainians Welcome – Your safe stay in the UK
- Homes for Ukraine factsheet for Ukrainians (English, Ukrainian and Russian)
- Guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK (English)
- Providers of English courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL) in Somerset
- 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
- Library Services – Information for guests arriving from other countries
- Community Council for Somerset (CCS) – Support for Ukrainian refugees