People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection guidance

Guidance for all practitioners involved in safeguarding of children and adults who are arriving in Scotland from Ukraine to identify and respond to risk and need.

Follow on support

Mental health support

It is essential that anyone arriving from Ukraine has equal access to mental health assessment and support. This will enable people to access to the right services at the right level and at the right time. Consideration should be given to advocacy services, where required.

Escaping war will contribute to psychological stress and mental health issues (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which may not manifest until weeks after displacement).

It is important that those working with people who have arrived from Ukraine are mindful of any indications of this occurrence. It is critical to:

  • consider individuals’ mental health and wellbeing as those affected by war and conflict are at higher risk of significant mental health difficulties and, where appropriate, refer to mental health services
  • use trauma-informed approaches to care provision

The legislative framework for mental health in Scotland is primarily contained in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 for which there is a code of practice issued by Scottish Ministers. However, it should be noted that there are many strands to mental health legislative practice in Scotland; these can be complex and difficult to navigate. Anyone requiring care and treatment under legislative processes will be treated with dignity, respect and humility, with rights afforded in line with the principles of the legislation.

Should anyone require inpatient admission, hospital staff will provide support and advice to the individual and adopt a sensitive approach to their cultural needs and beliefs.

It is important any carers of someone in hospital and/or community team care are supported to understand the mental health care and treatment process and options in Scotland. Importantly, they should be supported to understand that as carers in Scotland they have access to a carer’s rights framework and a carer’s assessment.

Psychological Wellbeing Packs have been developed for Ukrainian arrivals, host families and services.

Follow up visits

It is likely that arrivals from Ukraine, including children and adults, have had lengthy journeys and may have suffered trauma and loss. Early arrivals have been described as exhausted, suspicious of authority and uncertain about their destinations.

In turn, this has meant that early identification of need, discussions around what support they may require, and any signs there may be risk have been limited, relying on the assessment skill of the Welcome Hub staff. It may also be the case that further assessment of need is required for a child or for an adult.

A visit should be undertaken after the matching process (with consent) to revisit the questions on the welcome checklist (see welcome checklist and screening form in the supporting documents of this guide) and to undertake any additional assessment of need or risk.

Local authorities should consider who is best placed to undertake this visit; it is recommended that it is someone with relevant experience in resettlement, family support, social work or social care.

These visits are an opportunity to enquire with people who have arrived from Ukraine that they feel safe and supported. They should also serve as an opportunity for any support needs of the host to be considered, identifying any particular challenges that could contribute to future breakdown of the hosting arrangement.

It is essential that these visits have a clear referral route to child and adult protection services, and local procedures around risk and protection are followed.

Role and support for sponsors

The Super Sponsor Scheme and Homes for Ukraine: guidance for local authorities outlines that:

  • all sponsors, and adults (aged of 16 years) in the household, must agree to an enhanced Disclosure Scotland check, this includes an ID check (this includes those who no longer live at home but are returning for a temporary period)
  • all sponsors must agree to a home visit undertaken by a local authority officer/contractor in order to assess the suitability of the accommodation offered
  • sponsors should check their mortgage lender’s website for further guidance or seek the agreement of their landlord if they are a tenant
  • sponsors should notify their insurer that they will be hosting guests prior to their arrival
  • all sponsors are required to provide suitable accommodation for a minimum of 6 months
  • sponsors should support and help guests to adapt to life in the UK, initially checking if they have enough food and supplies such as toiletries, along with checking if they have access to a mobile phone and internet to stay in contact with family members
  • sponsors should help direct their guests to public services, for example, registering with a GP, NHS dentist, or school, in the case of children.

It is essential that sponsors understand their role and that they are also provided with offers of support.

There is a risk to children and adults of exploitation in the form of unpaid or underpaid work. People arriving from Ukraine should not be undertaking household tasks on behalf of their hosts.

Domestic servitude and forced or compulsory labour and is an offence under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.  

It is possible that cultural differences, including parenting styles and lifestyles, become apparent, perhaps placing a strain on living arrangements. It is therefore important that both people arriving from Ukraine and their host families are informed of the support available to manage any difficulties, with the aim of avoiding breakdown.

In circumstances where the arrangement is no longer sustainable, support should be sought directly from the local authority.

It is recognised that breakdown in living arrangements may also occur within the family visa scheme. In such cases, the local authority should be contacted to support pursuit of alternative accommodation.

Ending arrangements 

The UK Guidance suggests that guests should notify sponsors/hosts in the event they wish the arrangement to cease, and relies upon the sponsor informing the local authority.

This also applies to sponsors/hosts who wish to end the arrangement, however in this case the sponsor should give their guests two months’ notice.

Guests may move on for a number of reasons including:

  • moving back to Ukraine
  • moving to another host
  • moving into their own accommodation

When an arrangement under the Individual Matching or Super Sponsor Scheme comes to an end - for any reason - the local authority must be notified. 

Related information:

Information sharing

The local protocols for sharing information and raising child and/or adult protection concerns have not changed. Where any person becomes aware of the risk of harm to a child or an adult, then Police Scotland (if the danger is imminent) or Health and Social Care Partnership/Social Work should be alerted immediately. These responsibilities should be particularly highlighted to trainees, new staff, redeployed, retired or volunteer staff.

As people arriving from Ukraine are moving between local authority areas it is especially important that relevant safeguarding information be shared efficiently between authorities where it is necessary, lawful and proportionate to do so, to ensure effective, efficient transitions to minimise and mitigate risks.



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