Many of us have been very inspired by the example of the Triratna sangha in Krakow, Poland, opening their centre to refugee families from Ukraine. Last week Adhisthana and the College of Preceptors held an ‘Evening of Metta and Solidarity with our European Sangha’ in which Polish and Estonian Order members talked about their experience being so close to the conflict.
If we are inspired – as individual Buddhists or as Buddhist centre charities - to follow their generous example, it will be important to recognise that refugees are extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, particularly sexual abuse and trafficking, and take measures to reduce risk. Systems will vary from country to country.
I will comment here on the system being developed by the government in the UK for receiving refugees - which will involve background security checks on both the hosts and the refugees. Please let me know - or comment below - with links to advice for those in other countries. Email: safeguarding [at] triratna.community
In the UK
It’s important to note that Buddhists wishing to offer to take in Ukrainian refugees can at present only do this as individual citizens, not via a Buddhist centre charity.
A Ukrainian refugee seeking housing in the UK needs a visa and an official sponsor to enter the UK. British citizens wishing to become sponsors and offer housing can sign up via the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. As part of the process, DBS background security checks (PVG in Scotland) will be undertaken by government on both sponsors and refugees.
At present this is the only official way to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee in the UK.
The system is expected to come into operation later this week.
Organisations - such as Buddhist centre charities - are not able to volunteer yet but they can register their interest in doing so. If your charity wishes to get involved, the process will involve getting DBS/PVG security checks for those working on behalf of your charity.
Information supplied by UK government 15th March 2022.
NB If you are wondering how your charity can respond to the Ukrainian crisis you may wish to attend this free webinar tomorrow Thursday 17th March 2022, offered by BatesWells, charity lawyers.
UPDATE: This webinar was recorded. Watch the video.