Team Devon authorities, including Devon County and District Councils and the Devon Association of Local Councils, have pledged to work together to support Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK, and have each condemned Russia’s actions.
They have agreed to give particular support to families in Devon whose relatives in Ukraine are fleeing the conflict.
Individually, councils have also taken steps to cut Russian links, such as through contracts for energy provision. And any few remaining investments within the Devon Pension Fund, linked to Russian assets, are being sold off quickly.
Devon councils have long worked together, alongside health and voluntary sector partners and local communities, to provide safe sanctuary and resettlement for refugees, most recently Syrian families and those fleeing conflict in Afghanistan.
The Leader of Devon County Council and Chair of the Team Devon partnership of authorities, Cllr John Hart said: “We are deeply concerned for those desperate people escaping conflict in Ukraine in huge numbers. We agreed that we have a duty to do what we can in Devon to support families fleeing Ukraine to join their family members here in the UK.”
The government has outlined support for up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees under ‘temporary visa concessions’. And further visas are being granted to those currently within the UK, including specific groups of workers, students and other visitors.
Already Devon District Councils are receiving offers of accommodation from Devon residents, for Ukrainian families.
Cllr Bob Deed, Chair of the Devon Districts Forum and Leader of Mid Devon District Council, said: “Our communities across Devon have already shown a willingness to help the people of Ukraine and I am glad that our councils can work together, in the coming days and months, to offer assistance to people whose lives have been changed immeasurably by this war. While details of local support is being drawn up I would encourage anyone who wishes to help to donate to the UK’s emergency fund.”
And today, the UK Disasters Emergency Committee has launched its Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, drawing together funding and action across major charities and Non-Governmental Organisations to support people displaced through the conflict. The government has pledged to match up to £20 million of any donations from the public.
The fastest way to donate to a DEC appeal is by donating online. Visit https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
Alternatively you can call 01204 770822, or use other ways to donate. https://dechelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/200731191-Donations-Gift-Aid
Or visit your local District Council page for details of support in your area:
Many parish and town councils are keen to make contributions to the crisis in Ukraine. Please be aware that section 137 (3) of the Local Government Act 1972 prevents councils making donations to charities operating outside of the UK. Councils with the General Power of Competence have the power to make a donation to a charity operating overseas as it is something that an individual can do.
However, if a council received a request from a local charity providing support to refugees from Ukraine locally, then they may be able to use section 137 to provide support to that charity.
Other ways to assist may be:
Please contact us if you need any further advice.
As with most flag flying, please make sure you have checked the government’s guidance on flying flags or ask your planning authority.
Devon County Council is working across a range of partners to develop suitable local responses particularly with regards to the UK Government Ukraine Family Visa scheme and the Homes for Ukraine scheme announced yesterday. The specific role for local government in support for each is still emerging and they will provide a wider briefing on this in due course.
In the meantime for those offering accommodation locally, you may want to direct them to Homes for Ukraine where they can register interest direct with Government. The link also contains some Frequently Asked Questions for would be accommodation providers.
Devon County Council is following national and international guidance that those wishing to offer donations on the ground are best served in making financial contributions, particularly to the Disasters Emergency Committee. They may review local responses should numbers of Ukrainian refugees with particular needs start to settle locally.
The Council’s website is being updated with the latest information and provides wider background and links.
NALC has issued guidance in a briefing on the situation in Ukraine, available for download here GB1-22 UKRAINE
Councils concerned about cyber security could refer to The Good Councillor’s Guide to Cyber Security (available to download on our Publications page). You could also contact the Devon and Cornwall Police Cyber Protect Unit who can offer a free Cyber Crime Awareness Session in your community or to your council to help you prepare.