22 November 2023

Risk of homelessness four times higher for Ukrainian families this winter, British Red Cross warns

Thousands of Ukrainian families across the country are facing homelessness this winter, new research for the British Red Cross reveals.

Ukrainian families are struggling to find safe and warm homes here in the UK, with around 6,220 families expected to have applied for homelessness support by the end of this financial year, a rise of 13 per cent from the previous year.

The research conducted by leading academic Professor Glen Bramley and commissioned by the British Red Cross found that Ukrainian families are four times more likely to have to register as homeless or face precarious living arrangements, compared with the general UK population. 

There are several factors that put Ukrainians at risk, including the breakdown of relationships with host families, language barriers and difficulty navigating the housing market. This means that men, women and children who have sought safety from the conflict in Ukraine are more likely to end up sofa surfing, living in tents, staying in hostels or even sleeping on the streets.

The British Red Cross warns this additional housing pressure comes at a time when homelessness and housing demand is rising more widely in the UK. The charity is also warning that without more government support, the risk of homelessness for Ukrainian refugees will increase even further.

Olivia Field, British Red Cross Head of Policy and Advocacy, said: “This winter we expect thousands of men, women and children from Ukraine to become homeless here in the UK. British Red Cross teams are increasingly seeing how difficult it is for Ukrainians to get the help and support they need to find long-term housing. They are often unable to meet upfront rental costs and can be excluded from local authority schemes that help prevent homelessness." 

“We also know that many host families, who generously opened their homes, are now struggling to continue to do so due to the cost-of-living crisis." 

“We want government to increase the support available to host families by extending the ‘thank you’ payments for the third year of sponsorship to Homes for Ukraine hosts and make this support available to hosts on the Family Scheme too. Government also needs to tackle barriers that are preventing Ukrainian families from being able to rent homes, so people can live in dignity and keep a roof over their heads this winter.”

Viktoriia is one of the people being supported by the British Red Cross. She fled the conflict in Ukraine and came to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme with her disabled mother and seven-year-old son. Relieved to be safe when she came to the UK, Viktoriia wasn’t expecting to face the threat of homelessness just six months later. 

Speaking of her own threat of homelessness, Viktoriia said:“I was worried we would be out on the street. I had no idea what to do."

“It is stressful because we don’t know what is going to happen to us next. 

“We are not allowed to apply for citizenship, we are working non-stop, and we don’t know where our future is. After Covid and the war, we just want to be able to plan our future.” 


Notes to editors

  • The British Red Cross commissioned this research from Professor Glen Bramley, a leading academic on housing and urban economics at Heriot Watt University. You can read a summary of the research here. 
  • Since the first arrivals of Ukrainians in the UK in March 2022, the British Red Cross has supported over 65,000 men, women and children displaced by the conflict with emergency cash assistance, the provision of SIM cards, emotional and psychosocial support.  
  • The charity’s refugee services have also helped more than 2,900 people with their rights and entitlements, including accessing alternative accommodation, providing temporary financial assistance and basic supplies.   


About the British Red Cross

For over 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. With millions of volunteers across 192 countries, the British Red Cross is part of an international humanitarian Movement that’s there for people before, during and after a crisis. Together, we are the world’s emergency responders. www.redcross.org.uk