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Cambridge4Ukraine appeals for more homes for those fleeing war

Cambridge4Ukraine has appealed for new sponsors to house refugees fleeing Ukraine as the war following the Russian invasion on February 24 continues.

Andrii Smytsniuk at a Ukraine protest outside King’s College. Picture: Keith Heppell
Andrii Smytsniuk at a Ukraine protest outside King’s College. Picture: Keith Heppell

The volunteer-led organisation was created by some of the Cambridge University Ukrainian Society (CUUS) team with Cambridge residents to enable those fleeing the war to get in contact with prospective sponsors in Cambridge or indeed elsewhere in the UK.

Andrii Smytsniuk, a language teaching officer in Ukrainian at the University of Cambridge, is an advisor at CUUS and a co-founder at Cambridge4Ukraine. Speaking to the Cambridge Independent, he said there is an urgent need for new sponsors.

“We have exhausted the list of sponsors and are looking for new sponsors in Cambridge and around Cambridge – any distance is good,” he said. “We have at least 100 requests on our website and we are trying to look for sponsors for them anywhere in the UK.”

So far Cambridge4Ukraine has found housing for 120 Ukrainian families in the city and across the UK.

“It’s better than nothing,” Andrii says, “but obviously we’d like to have more. When it started we didn’t know what to do. We are learning as we go. There is certainly Ukraine fatigue, so many people wanted to help in very beginning and now, many people don’t know what is happening. They think the war is over but unfortunately the war is still going.”

The Ukrainian flag has become instantly recognisable
The Ukrainian flag has become instantly recognisable

Despite the challenges, Andrii is delighted with the overall response.

Last week the University of Cambridge announced the Ukrainian Academic Support Scheme. The scheme will fund up to 20 postgraduate research students and academics from Ukraine to continue their studies and research in Cambridge for a period between six to 12 months.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to those in Cambridge and in the UK who have already housed refugees from Ukraine,” says Andrii. “I’m amazed by the kindness of people in this country and hope more will welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms.”

A sponsor is someone who provides a room to a researcher and invites them in via their visa application for at least six to 12 months: they are paid £350 a month by the government.

“Hosts are not required to provide food too,” adds Andrii, “but they can if they want to.”

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