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Christian charity combating exploitation and abuse of Ukrainian refugees, offering free training for hosts

by Tola Mbakwe

A new Christian charity formed in the wake of Russia's invasion in Ukraine is working to counteract the risk of exploitation and abuse as refugees arrive in the UK.

Sanctuary Foundation is offering free online training for all those hosting or working with Ukrainian refugees.

The organisation has urged everyone involved in refugee hosting and support to be vigilant, and to commit to basic training in safeguarding, trauma awareness and community integration.

Dr Krish Kandiah, founder of Sanctuary Foundation, told Premier Christian News: "It covers really important things like safeguarding, how can we make sure that we're creating an environment where our guests or those that we're volunteering alongside are safe? And also, how can we keep ourselves safe? What about trauma?... 

"Particularly children leaving a warzone are likely to be experiencing something close to post traumatic stress syndrome, and we need to make sure that as we engage with them, we make enough room for them to recover. 

"We also need to know when and where to get expert help. I see this as a little bit like first aid training, no one's trying to help you become a surgeon, but they are trying to help you do the right thing in an emergency and get the help that people need."

The Sanctuary Course consists of six online lessons, which include video input from Save The Children, Refugee Education UK, and other UK charities, as well as global refugee experts and those who have experience as refugees themselves. 

More than 5.6 million Ukrainians have left their country since the Russian invasion began.  The UK government has issued 86,000 visas and another 30,000 are still in progress. 

Last week it emerged that some of the accommodation provided by sponsors in the UK has been deemed unsuitable. Evidence has also begun to show that some vulnerable women are already being exploited.

The Sanctuary Course asks participants to pledge "to protect refugees from harm, to provide safe spaces and to promote the wellbeing of refugees". Each lesson guides people on how to do that.

Ed Shapiro, global expert in refugees and founder of the Shapiro Foundation, said:

"Sponsoring a refugee family was a life-changing experience for my entire family and my community. While empathy and kindness are the most important traits for welcomers, accessible and informative training courses can help you and the newcomer to have the best possible experience."

The Sanctuary Course can be accessed here.

Listen to Premier's interview with Dr Krish Kandiah here: 


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