Support for Ukrainian nationals


Welcome guide

To help you over the first few weeks and months in the UK, Kent County Council have created a handbook containing information about Kent and the UK.

Welcome to Kent handbook

A guide has been published by government to help you to settle into life in the UK. The guide covers:

  • what you need to know in your first few days
  • getting used to life in the UK
  • accessing essential public services
  • finding work
  • education

A guide has also been created for people who are supporting Ukrainian refugees with regard to cultural sensitivity guidelines.

We also have the welcome to Maidstone leaflet which you can print off and hand out.

Financial support

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has made a number of changes to help those coming to the UK from Ukraine to make an immediate claim for benefit.

Translation services are available to help new arrivals with phone applications, with support from our Help to Claim service delivered by Citizens Advice for those who need support to make a claim online. If someone is unable to make a claim to Universal Credit without face to face support then this can be delivered in our job centres.

Emergency legislation was made so that people arriving from Ukraine would not be subject to the Habitual Residence Test. Without this they would have meant they would have to wait up to three months before being able to receive income-related benefits, including Universal Credit.

You can apply for universal credit by visiting GOV.UK.

Local support

Kent libraries are providing further support to Ukrainian nationals in the area.

How to protect yourself from abuse

There are different kinds of abuse and it can happen anywhere. It happens when someone exploits another person or treats them in a way that harms or hurts them. It can happen once or on multiple occasions. People who abuse are not always strangers. They can also be partners, relatives, a friend, neighbour or carer. You can find out more from our leaflet which is translated to Ukrainian. If you require a different language you can visit the website.

Voluntary and community groups

You can search our community services directory for local groups offering support in your community.

Sponsor guidance

Guidance for sponsors can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Counselling for Ukrainian children

All children are entitled to 6 or 12 sessions via the education provider. Parents, schools and professionals can refer.

Banking

Santander and the Lloyds banking group which includes Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland are offering banking support for Ukrainians

We do not have branches of Bank of Scotland or Scottish Widows in Maidstone but you may wish to use their online services

Health care

Healthwatch can provide information and advice on medical support you are entitled to if you are new to the UK.

GP services
Hospital services 

Chemists/pharmacy

For over-the-counter medicines or prescriptions, you can use the NHS find a pharmacy to find your nearest chemist or pharmacy. For non-emergency health advice call ‘101’.

Mental health support

Mid Kent Mind offer mental health support for adults and young people. You can visit their website or you can contact them by phone on 01622  692383. This number is available from 9pm until 5pm Monday to Friday.

If you are having a difficult time and need someone to talk to, you can call the Maidstone and the Weald Samaritans on 116 123 free from any phone or 0330 094 5717 local call charges will apply.

Staying safe

Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board

Have produced a leaflet in Ukrainian with advice about adult abuse.

Stop the traffik

Have produced a variety of resources to help support people travelling from Ukraine to the UK:

UK government

Staying safe at events

Schools

Kent school admissions website provides details for Ukrainian and Russian families on registering your children at a Kent School.

Housing/homelessness

You will have arrived in Maidstone through one of two schemes, Ukraine Family Scheme or Homes for Ukraine. These schemes enable you to live with another family in their home and start your life within Kent. At times, these arrangements might not work out, and you may be asked to leave that family home. If you can find nowhere else to live and need some advice and support, please visit our webpage for more information.

If a Ukrainian individual or family comes to you with a housing need and is facing homelessness, please direct them to our housing team.

If the person you are dealing with is homeless today and has nowhere to stay, please ring our emergency phone line number 0808 196 3710, Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm. The number may be busy and you may have to try more than once. If you need assistance out of hours, please call 01622 602000.

Travel

To help Ukrainians travelling to the United Kingdom, most public transport operators, including National Rail's displaced persons scheme, are offering free onward travel to get you to a safe place. The offer is valid across all National Rail train operators, light rail services and the majority of bus and coach services in England, Scotland, and Wales. You'll have 48 hours from arrival in the UK to complete your journey.

Train stations

Maidstone has three train stations, Maidstone East, Maidstone West and Maidstone Barracks in the town centre and a number of other train stations in towns and villages across the borough. To find your nearest station and plan your journey visit the journey planner on the National Rail website.

Buses

Maidstone has a very good bus service. Bus travel is provided by Arriva. To find your nearest bus stop and plan your journey visit the Arriva bus website.

Emergency services

In an emergency, police, fire and rescue and ambulance services can all be accessed by dialling ‘999’.

In a non-emergency situation for help or advice, contact call 101:

Kent Police - Contact us | Kent Police

Kent Fire and Rescue - Contact us | Kent Fire and Rescue Service (fire-uk.org)

NHS - Get medical help - NHS 111

Visa/Immigration support

The Ukraine Advice Project is a group of volunteer legal professionals with immigration and asylum expertise providing a free service to connect Ukrainian citizens (and others fleeing Ukraine).

Support and guidance from the UK government can be found on GOV.UK. The Home Office helpline number is: + 44 (0)808 164 8810 - select option 1.

Places of worship

Find a faith group in your area.

Food

Find your nearest food bank.

The Maidstone Salvation Army

74 - 80 Union Street
Maidstone
Kent
ME14 1ED

They offer a food bank which is open Wednesdays and Fridays between 1pm and 3pm.

Mobile and internet

The unconnected are an organisation helping people in the Ukraine stay connected. Phone plans can be topped up by the website..

If you are a charity able to support Ukrainian refugees in the UK, you can also apply for free mobile connectivity with Vodaphone.

Three Ukrainian Refugees can get a free 30-day pay as you go SIM card preloaded with unlimited domestic calls and texts, as well as unlimited data for use within the UK.  The network also offers free calls and texts from the UK to Ukraine for all Three customers. There is a branch in Maidstone.

Benefits and employment

Maidstone Job Centre Plus

Maidstone Job Centre Plus is based at:

The Link
King Street
Maidstone
ME14 1FW

and

Unit 2
Lower Boxley Road
Maidstone
ME14 2UU

By calling 0800 169 0190 or by text phone 0800 169 0314.

Working in the UK and workers rights

Clothing and household goods

The Princess Project, Totcycle offers free clothing for babies and children, nappies, formula, toys to those who need it.

Charity shops

Maidstone town centre has a large number of charity shops offering very cheaply priced clothing and household goods including furniture items.

Some of the largest stores are:

English language support services

Kent Adult Education are providing English Language classes for Ukrainian nationals new to Maidstone.

Together South works to support refugees and non-EU migrants in Kent, helping them to connect with and thrive in their communities by providing English language lessons, employment advice and community activities. All activities the programme offers are free of charge.

Charity Translators provides a directory of translating services and guidance and support.

Machine translation is a tool for gaining an understanding of the contents of a document or a website for example Google Translate.

The Bell Foundation offers advice and training for adults, children and communities in the UK where English is an additional language.

Ukrainian hubs in Maidstone

Informal opportunities to meet up with other Ukrainians new to Maidstone.

Maidstone town centre

Wednesdays between 3.30pm and 5pm at:

Friends Meeting House
170 Union St
Maidstone
ME14 1EE

Email madmstone@gmail.com for more information.

Marden and Staplehurst

For Marden and Staplehurst please email us for more information.

Other Support

You may live in an area with a local parish council providing support and links to the community. Contact your parish council.

Maidstone is divided into wards, each ward is represented by one or more councillors who represent and support the community. Find your local ward councillor.

  • The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) offers free and confidential advice and support. The Maidstone CAB office have their own website or can be contact by phone: 08082 505704
  • The Romanian and Eastern European Hub is a service designed to support the Romanian and Eastern European communities both in London and more widely across the UK. It offers free, tailored support to those needing help due to language, digital, and cultural barriers.
  • Barnardos Support Helpline offers a range of support from therapy to practical support and advise, with access to interpreters in Ukrainian and Russian.
  • Refugee Council provides a variety of support and information for refugees.
  • Red Cross advice for refuges on getting settled in the UK. Contact the local office by email or call: 01622 625112.
  • Kent Kindness advice and support for young refugees living in Kent.
  • KRAN an advocacy and support project for young refugees and asylum seekers in Kent.
  • Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees a local community group welcoming refugee families arriving in Tonbridge and supporting them as they
  • settle into the community.
  • Rufugease is a local charity to help those fleeing conflicts from around the world. They have set up an efficient system for people to purchase and send aid parcels directly to refugees on the Ukraine boarder. They are also working to help evacuated unaccompanied children safely.
  • Migrant Help offer guidance and resources and have a free asylum helpline: 0808 8010 503.

Contact us

If you cannot find the information you are looking for please email us or contact our customer services team on 01622 602000.

We have offers of individual support from people across Maidstone as well as a number of charitable and voluntary sector organisation offering support which may meet your needs.  Please contact us and let us know what you are looking for.

National appeals

One of the best ways to help is by donating cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than donating goods. Cash can be transferred quickly to areas where it is needed, and individuals and aid organisations can use it to buy what is most needed.

UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)

A national appeal has also been launched by the UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict. Fifteen UK aid agencies - including the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children are joining together to ask the public to donate.

Homes in Ukraine have been destroyed and water supplies, hospitals and schools have been hit, the DEC says. The charities say people urgently need food, water, shelter and medical care.

The appeal will help people who have fled Ukraine but also those who have been displaced to other parts of the country. All public donations will be doubled by the UK government, up to a total of £20m.

  • £10 could provide a hygiene kit to a family of five, giving them supplies to stay healthy for a month
  • £20 could provide five blankets to families taking shelter
  • £33 could provide 40 chlorine tablets to ensure that families have access to clean, safe water
  • £100 could provide sleeping mats for 66 people who have been forced from their homes
  • £210 could provide a fully equipped first aid kit, including supplies, to a first aider treating those wounded.

Mid Kent college

Volunteers at Mid Kent college have been collecting donations to send to Ukraine to help those affected by the conflict. They were requesting items such as:

  • clothes
  • shoes
  • bedding
  • toiletries
  • toys

For further details please email Mid Kent college.