Norfolk council seeks to take on officer to help Ukrainian refugees

Cromer pier, very quiet the morning storm Eunice is due to hit Rainbow appears on the horizon.. Pic

Cromer Pier quiet on the morning of Storm Eunice. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

A Norfolk council is looking to take on additional staff to help Ukrainians fleeing the war against Russia.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has unveiled plans to hire a community support officer (CSO) fluent in Ukrainian and Russian to help the women, children and older people fleeing conflict.

Council officers said the role would help provide a "warm welcome" to the district to refugee families and would also support local people who have offered to provide housing.

More than 3m people are believed to have been displaced by the conflict in Ukraine which started last month, and many are seeking temporary homes abroad.

In the UK, around 125,000 people have offered to host refugees in their homes.

The CSO will be able to assist the refugees who arrive in north Norfolk in getting access to health services, education and providing language support, as well as help finding employment.

The proposal is set to go before NNDC’s cabinet next Monday. 

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A report to cabinet members ahead of the meeting says the post would initially be for one year, with the estimated £50,000 costs met through the council's reserves at first. 

However, NNDC hopes that the costs can be claimed back through the government funding for local authorities supporting the national refugee programme. 

It is unknown how many refugees will come to north Norfolk, with NNDC saying it ultimately expects “several hundred”.

The report said: “The proposal seeks to provide a dedicated resource to extend a warm welcome to north Norfolk of this displaced and vulnerable community so they can be supported in rebuilding their lives at what is a time of considerable uncertainty for them often having left partners, husbands and fathers, and perhaps elderly relatives, in Ukraine."

It is hoped the CSO will promote local networks linking Ukrainian families settling across Norfolk, to reduce isolation and allow them to retain cultural links while still making "new friendships and connections" in the UK.

On Monday, preparations were being made for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Norfolk, with homes being inspected and background checks being carried out on volunteers.

The first families are expected to arrive within days.