Diocese of Portsmouth

Help for Ukrainian refugees

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, our diocese has been working as a partner with the charity Citizens UK to offer accommodation to refugees who are fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine. They were already running a project to sponsor refugees before the Ukrainian crisis, and have partners in Ukraine, Moldova and Poland who can identify refugees and organise transport to the UK. They also have the expertise to help us with the next steps for refugees after the initial six-month commitment runs out.

The first matches of hosts to guests happened in April 2022, and the first Ukrainian guests arrived that summer. By the end of last year we were able to host 51 Ukrainians in 22 households across Hampshire. Among those who have welcomed Ukrainian families into their homes are clergy, such as Jenny Gaffin in Hayling Island.

Over the past year, we continued with our refugee work and were involved in a pilot scheme with charities CitizensUK and USPUK to sponsor more Ukrainians to come over. Working with a local employer, we work with the two charities to design a programme that will support refugees both with accommodation and employment. We were able to help 7 women and 3 children who were supported by Community Guides recruited from local churches on the Isle of Wight and Winchester. The scheme was then rolled out to the rest of the UK. Any employer interested in the scheme can contact CitizensUK.

We said goodbye to Refugee Coordinator Maricar Jagger at the end of the year who said this: “I’m really grateful to have been involved in the Homes for Ukraine scheme with the Diocese. It’s been an incredible experience; witnessing suffering that was difficult at times to comprehend, and yet also working with people who are incredibly resilient, and those with a huge capacity for love and compassion. It’s been really life-affirming for me.”

Here are some details:

  • If you or anyone in your church would like to be a host/sponsor, you can register your interest by emailing us here;
  • We’ll then be in touch to let you know about DBS checks, home checks, training and other support that we can offer to you;
  • If you’ve already applied to be part of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, you can still add your name to this list. But if you’re already linked with someone in Ukraine who you intend to accommodate, there is no need to do so;
  • Those who we are welcoming will have experienced loss and trauma. Potential hosts don’t have to experts in these areas, but should recognise these challenges before offering accommodation;
  • We’re not interested in asking people to sleep on floors or sofas – this has to be a commitment to house an individual or family in a spare room or a separate house for six months;
  • We’re particularly interested in homes/rooms in areas with greater local infrastructure, to help refugees access support services that already exist. But we wouldn’t turn away offers from more remote parishes;
  • We’d like those who host refugees to be part of a team at your local church(es) who could offer befriending and other support. A host family cannot do this alone.

You can find a list of frequently-asked questions and answers about the project here.

Latest News

More news

Media reports on our project

Other resources

The national Church of England has put together a Toolkit to help you to prepare for welcoming refugees. It brings together practical information about community sponsorship, prayer and advocacy, plus links to other information such as safeguarding. You can read their announcement about this here, and download the whole Toolkit here.

Another way to help is to register to welcome Ukrainian refugees with a new organisation called the Sanctuary Foundation. It encourages individuals and churches to register to offer support - meeting refugees at the airport, befriending them, and helping them to access local services and support as they settle in or near your church. Once you’ve registered, they’ll be in touch to let you know how you can help, when help is needed.

If you are providing space for Ukrainians to gather, this poster might be useful for displaying in those premises. The poster, written mostly in Ukrainian, reads: “If you do not feel safe or your host does not make you feel safe, or if you are in danger please call 0300 555 1386. If it is an emergency and if you need help now please call 999.”

Pray for Ukraine

Christians across the globe have been praying for the conflict in Ukraine since the invasion began. As we mark the first anniversary of the invasion, some specific prayers have been produced.

Some ideas:

  • use this prayer for Ukraine from the chaplain of St Nicholas, Helsinki, which supported refugees from Ukraine;
  • use this prayer from Christian Aid on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion;
  • ask churchgoers to light candles to pray for peace and for those bereaved, injured, displaced and frightened;
  • post photos of your prayers and candles on social media channels with the hashtag #WePrayForUkraine;
  • organise an act of witness with your church or local community. This could involve wearing blue and yellow, holding a moment of silence, or holding up blue and yellow hearts as an act of solidarity.

Prayer resources

You can find some liturgical resources to use when praying for peace here. Among them is this Collect:

Almighty God,
from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


Other resources

Prayer 24:7 have released a prayer for the crisis, available online, and downloadable in PDF and PowerPoint formats, in English and Spanish.
EngageWorship have released a five-part prayer online and in PowerPoint format, and also provide links to 5 Ukrainian hymns.

Donations for Ukraine

If you would like to make a donation to help those who are caught up in the conflict in Ukraine, or who are fleeing from it as refugees, here are some helpful places to start looking:

Some of our churches have already been helping out, and you can read about their efforts below:

Resources to use with children

The BBC has created series of animated short films, Seeking Refuge, about young refugees who have starred a new life in the UK, which might be suitable for Upper KS2 and KS3. These have also been turned into a series of picture books.

The Christian Aid game “Safe Place Ludo” is a good resource to help children of primary school age explore issues raised by the refugee crisis. Christian Aid has also created a number of Prayer Space resources, exploring themes such as peace making and children alone.

Oxfam has a series of teaching resources called Stand with Refugees aimed at KS2 – 3. There is also a good set of CAFOD Refugee resources, including a short film and simulation activity where children can follow a refugee family through various dangers and crisis points.

Picture News have made their Ukraine resources free to all schools, you can sign in here to download them.