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Home >> Newsletters >> Newsletter 2022-11-16

Paul Wordsworth writes…..

The war in Ukraine now enters its eight month. Russia is withdrawing from some of the areas it occupied in the first weeks of the invasion. That does not mean the end of the conflict is in sight. Russian missiles and air strikes are now aimed at taking out vital power and water supplies in cities across Ukraine. That will create major suffering for the civilian population as winter brings its freezing temperatures.

Here in York, many of the 300 Ukrainians who have come since April are seeking some kind of future for the months ahead. Some are finding work; others are accessing education programmes as adults, to qualify them for the careers they practised back home. Yet others are seeking a place to rent, for themselves and their family, now that the 6 month hosting arrangements are drawing to an end. None of the above actions are easily and simply done, but there is a partnership of local support from a wide range of bodies, enabling and encouraging people to face the future with a degree of hope and certainty.

YUST (York- Ukraine Support Team) led by Rebecca Russell, and assisted by Svitlana Kucher are assisting the search for suitable accommodation to rent. Any offers or signposting are gratefully received. Likewise, if you are aware of employment opportunities, contact [email protected] or [email protected] and it can be followed up. There is still an opportunity to offer to be a host for six months, and Government funding remains available for that period. If you’d like to know more, contact one of the email addresses above.

City Hotel to accommodate asylum seeking families

York City of Sanctuary is meeting each week with the City Council, NY Police, the Home Office, hotel accommodation supervisors, Mears, and other local groups such as Refugee Action York, to be kept informed of Government plans to move families recently arrived in the UK, to a hotel in York. It is expected that arrivals begin in early December. This will be another challenge for the city, in view of the numbers expected.

Those coming to the city will mostly have passed through the tented processing centre located at Manston, in Kent. This site, set up on a former RAF airfield near a small village, (ring any bells?) was planned to house 1400, but ended up with more than 4000 people there. Conditions were condemned by an independent inspection as ‘beyond words’. Some words were found, which included, ‘inhumane, and unsafe’.

People arriving in York will have already been interviewed by Home Office staff, and it is agreed that they have a case for asylum application in the UK. They are being dispersed to York while they await the outcome of their request for refugee status. This is a legal process which means they are not here in the UK illegally, but are protected under International Law and by the Geneva Convention of which the UK is a founding member.

How long people will be kept in the York hotel is impossible to predict. Not less than 3 months and up to 12 months is an educated guess. The reality is that those seeking asylum are now being housed in hotels across the UK for one very simple reason. The Home Office has slowed down the process of dealing with applications so drastically, that numbers in the queue have led to a complete log jam of available accommodation, which is normally in shared housing.

The number of asylum seekers arriving in the UK in 2021 is less than half those arriving 10-20 years ago. No hotels were used at that time to house those waiting for decisions.

Look at these figures from 2017. Waiting for asylum claim decision; 29,500*

Expected time of decision from initial claim; 6 months

Now, in June 2022; 122,200 * waiting time for decision from initial claim; indefinite

Out of that recent number, 41,000* have been waiting in the UK for 1-3 years for a decision. 10,000* have been waiting 3-5 years. These are not newly arrived on our shores. The Home Office no longer offers a decision time. That is what is costing the millions of pounds it requires to house people in hotels. Clearing the backlog, and making speedy decisions leading those people who qualify as refugees to start re-building their lives and making a contribution to our society, would be a very positive step. Money spent on employing qualified staff to do this work would be more effective than the £120 million paid to the Rwandan Government to receive not one flight from the UK. *Figures provided under Freedom of Information

Coming soon

I hope you have a note in your diary of the date of our meeting. Come and join us. We look forward to seeing you there.

AGM; Thursday November 24th 2022.
At the Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, YO1 9RL

Refreshments are available from 6 pm, and the meeting will start at 6.15 pm.
We aim to finish by or before 8 pm


Our current treasurer, Claire Newhouse, has provided sterling service to us over the recent years, and we are very grateful for her gift of time and contribution to our work. We will certainly pay tribute to her fully at the AGM. She will be soon stepping down from her role and therefore a new officer for that role is needed.

Our banking is a straightforward business one with just one current account. We don’t have investments or savings and deposit accounts to deal with. The person would become a member of the Board of Trustees. Ideally, we are looking for someone with experience of book-keeping, accountancy, or work in the finance sector. An alternative would be someone with proven experience working as treasurer/bursar within the educational/charity field. Some of the administrative side of the finance is dealt with by the co-ordinator; acknowledging payments and donations, paying in cheques and cash, and exploring grants and specific funding.

We are looking now, so please do contact [email protected] if you would like to have more information. If you are ready to apply, fill in the trustee application form, including your specific interest in the post of treasurer, and send it me at the ’paul’ email address.

If the post is not your area of expertise, but you know someone who ‘fits the bill’ do recommend us to them for consideration. Our Board of Trustees has benefitted greatly in the past as a result of word of mouth commendations.

Creating Schools of Sanctuary in York

In inviting applications for this year’s election to the Board, we would be particularly interested to hear from anyone with experience of working in the education environment of primary or secondary schools. We are looking to develop our activity in encouraging the growth of Schools of Sanctuary here in York. As yet, our city does not have a school which has reached that point. We would welcome a trustee with an interest in helping us move that project forward.

 Co-ordinator- York City of Sanctuary