North Norfolk MP to open his home to Ukrainian refugees

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker is among the thousands of people across the UK who have signed up to welcome Ukrainian refugees into their homes.

The 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme, which came into effect on Monday (March 14), allows individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to offer a room or home rent-free to Ukrainians escaping the war, whether or not they have family ties to the country.

Hosts will be paid £350 a month.

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka crossing.

A Polish border guard carries a child as refugees from Ukraine cross into Poland at the Medyka crossing. - Credit: AP

On the first day of the scheme, 89,000 people registered their interest on the government's website.

Mr Baker said: "It's an absolutely staggering number. Huge numbers of people from north Norfolk have been in touch with me saying they are interested in the programme.

"My wife and I have signed up to it as well. We feel it’s the right thing to do. We will probably sponsor a mother with one child," he added. 

The scheme will start with people who have connections with Ukrainians. By the end of the week, NGOs including community groups, church groups and the charity sector, with links to families on the ground, will begin to help match refugees with hosts in the UK. 

"We will see this move very quickly," Mr Baker said.

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"The beauty of this is it’s going to give people the power to start making their own decisions to help the situation."

He also drew attention to the challenges of the scheme.

"We have to recognise there are going to significant barriers. There will be linguistic barriers, there will be mental health and trauma issues to be dealt with.  

"It may be their father was left to fight in the war and he might be killed over the next six months, then you have a bereavement issue at your home.  

"It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, given the dreadful conditions the people have come from.

"With my family, we have had conversations to ensure we can help and what we are able to offer is going to be suitable," he said.

Sponsors have to provide accommodation for a minimum expectation of six months.

Those offering to host a refugee will be vetted by the government and Ukrainian applicants will also undergo security checks before they are matched with a host.