'Not enough to be well-intentioned - we must also be well-informed'
Sanctuary Foundation launches free online training to support those welcoming Ukrainians to the UK
A free online training course has been launched by Sanctuary Foundation to ensure that everyone hosting or working with refugees in the UK can receive basic training in refugee safety, wellbeing and support.
Since Sanctuary Foundation was launched in February this year, 31,606 people have registered their interest with them in supporting Ukrainian refugees. With this surge of interest in refugee support, it was important to the Foundation to provide an accessible and comprehensive course that could accommodate the large numbers of potential hosts and volunteers.
Sanctuary connect potential hosts with 'Reset' – the Government tendered agency with years of experience supporting community sponsorship projects. It is urging everyone involved in refugee hosting to commit to basic training in:
Its new, free course consists of six interactive online lessons. The lessons include video input from Save The Children, Refugee Education UK, and other charities in the UK, as well as global refugee experts and those who have experience as refugees themselves.
Dr Krish Kandiah, founder of Sanctuary Foundation, said, 'I am so inspired by the huge number of people that have stepped forward to offer to host Ukrainian refugees. This is a historic moment for our nation as we have not seen this scale of hospitality for a generation.
'However, it is not enough to be well-intentioned - we must also be well-informed when it comes to working with vulnerable people who have escaped war and terror and may well be experiencing post-traumatic stress.
'We have a duty of care to make sure that we do all we can to provide safe sanctuary for all those arriving in the UK.'
Dr Kandiah, who is also a foster carer, continued, 'We undergo rigorous training before we have the privilege of welcoming vulnerable children into our homes. Essential first aid training ensures that we don’t inadvertently do more harm than good when we are trying to assist someone.
'In the same way, it is important to make sure all those looking to come alongside new arrivals to the UK are given a basic toolkit so they can fulfil their duty of care appropriately.
'I am delighted that we have been able to collaborate with others to produce this excellent resource so quickly. We hope that it will help keep everyone safe - refugees, volunteers and hosts.'
More than 5.6 million Ukrainians have now left the country since the war began, and 86,000 visas have already been issued by the UK government, with another 30,000 still in progress.
Unfortunately, some of the accommodation provided by sponsors in the UK has been deemed unsuitable, and evidence has also begun to emerge that some vulnerable women are already being exploited.
The Sanctuary Course is asking participants to pledge 'to protect refugees from harm, to provide safe spaces and to promote the wellbeing of refugees'. Each lesson is full of helpful practical advice about how to do this.
Sanctuary Foundation was kindly gifted the learning platform "Lessonly by Seismic", which has enabled the course to be made widely available free of charge. Nick Dewey, of Glastonbury Festival, donated space in central London for the filming, and the experts all gave of their time freely too in support of this project.
Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save The Children UK, said, 'The UK has a brilliant opportunity to offer hospitality to refugee families from Ukraine but we must make sure hosts and volunteers are equipped to look after vulnerable people.'
Catherine Gladwell, Chief Executive of Refugee Education UK (REUK) commented, 'This course provides a great introduction to supporting refugees – I’d encourage everyone interested in hosting to take it.'
Ed Shapiro, global expert in refugees and founder of the Shapiro Foundation, said, 'Sponsoring a refugee family was a life-changing experience for my entire family and my community. While empathy and kindness are the most important traits for welcomers, accessible and informative training courses can help you and the newcomer to have the best possible experience.'
Anastasia Lypynska is a Ukrainian living in the UK and is featured on the Sanctuary Course talking about the importance of keeping refugees from Ukraine safe. 'There is nothing more precious than to have your family safe,' she says, 'to be able to talk to them, to hear their voice, not scared, not begging you to pray for them when they're in a bomb shelter, not crying, not calling in the middle of the night.'
Rachel Poulton, MBE, who is an experienced refugee host, added, 'We can't take away sadness and pain, we can't alter what's happened, but we can be part of building some good bits of a positive future, and that's just a lovely thing to do.'
The Baptist Union is encouraging member churches to stand with the people of Ukraine during this time of huge distress, anxiety and dislocation. Visit the dedicated Ukraine section of our website for more details.