District Dispatch - 22 March 2022
Many people have been asking how they can help those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Our communities across the district have a long history of helping others in their hour of need, and I know that many of you are keen to support those who have been affected. You will have seen that last week the Government launched the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme. This programme allows individuals, charities, community groups, and businesses across the UK to offer a room or home rent-free to Ukrainians escaping the war, regardless of whether they have ties to the country.
There is now a website that is gathering expressions of interest from potential hosts, which you can find here: Homes for Ukraine. Those who are interested can nominate a Ukrainian individual or family to stay with them for at least six months. Sponsored Ukrainians will be granted three years' leave to remain in the UK, and will be able to work, claim benefits and access public services during this period. People offering accommodation will receive an optional payment of £350 a month.
As I have said previously, as a council we stand with the people of Ukraine and we want to offer our support. We have created our own web page, providing information on the various ways you can help. You can find it at: Supporting Ukraine refugees. I'm also pleased to say that our Ukrainian flag is flying at the front of our building.
Last week, I was really proud to attend the official opening of our new temporary accommodation, which will offer 17 brand new flats. This is in addition to the 44 we currently offer on the same site in the district. This will make a huge difference to those who are facing homelessness and will give them the chance to get back on their feet. The flats have been designed to a high specification and you can see for yourself how impressive they are by watching our video at: Freeland Close project. Any one of us can come across difficult times, and so it is comforting to know that support and facilities such as this are available.
I am also pleased to tell you that as an organisation, we are supporting the Sunflower scheme to recognise those with hidden disabilities. All of our customer services staff have completed the training, and we plan to extend this across the organisation. Placing our customers at the centre of everything we do is a top priority and so we believe that this scheme will help us to further enhance the support we can provide to our customers. It means that when someone wears a sunflower lanyard, we will know that the person wearing it has a hidden disability and may need further support, understanding, or more time. If you are interested in finding out more about this scheme, or supporting it, please visit: Hidden Disabilities Store.
Finally, please don't forget that Culture Spark, a wonderful season of events, performances, live entertainment and community projects will launch next week. Residents and visitors are invited to attend a series of free events. The first is at Chichester Cathedral at 6.30pm on 29 March, the second is at Medmerry Mill in Selsey at 6.30pm on 30 March; and the third is at The Cowdray Ruins in Midhurst at 6.30pm on 31 March. You can find the full programme, which continues until October, at: The Great Sussex Way - Culture Spark 2022. The aim is to give everyone the chance to enjoy or participate in an amazing cultural experience and celebrate multiple milestones of some of the district's cultural organisations. We are very proud to have provided the initial investment for this project, along with Chichester Festival Theatre and Pallant House Gallery, and I hope that you get the opportunity to enjoy the many events on offer.
Cllr Eileen Lintill
Leader of Chichester District Council