Last updated:

12th June 2023

Chance to Thrive

We've coordinated the Chance to Thrive fund to help children and young refugees coming to Wokingham Borough from Ukraine. 

More than 500 residents donated, with more than £32,500 raised to help this group of people. This closed on 22 June and we will now be accepting applications from child refugees via case workers to start handing the money out.

Helping child refugees

Wokingham Borough is welcoming the largest single body of refugees in its history and we aim to provide a safe and supportive home for people who are going through traumatic experiences that we cannot imagine.

For this to happen, many of these children will need things – the sort of stuff that families provide their children all the time but that these children may well not have been able to bring from Ukraine.

We'll use the money donated to pay for things like school equipment and technology, sports kit, membership of local clubs or organisations.

This offer needs to be flexible and smart – needs will differ and it is vital that these young people are not stigmatised, patronised or penalised. We want to give them a little bit of control back over their lives.

We would not normally ask for donations – we know people pay enough in Council Tax and Business Rates. But welcoming hundreds of refugees from a war-torn country is not business as usual for us and we want to give our new guests every chance to thrive here.

What donations will be used for

Donations of money will be used to buy things or services requested specifically by young (aged 23 and under) Ukrainian refugees that meet the schemes’ eligibility and have been approved by our teams.

Refugees will be able to request funding up to £1,500 to help them in education, sporting, social or cultural activities.

These could include equipment and technology for school, college or university; membership of a local club or organisation or equipment necessary to take part in activities in the community.

Examples of what could be paid for under the scheme include (but are not restricted to):

  • Equipment for education (including digital technology). Single requests can include multiple items for educational use
  • Membership of sports clubs (such as football, basketball, netball etc)
  • Membership of social organisations (such as Scouts or Guides)
  • Membership of cultural groups (such as drama groups, theatre schools or dance classes)
  • Equipment or kit necessary to participate in sporting, social or cultural activities            

Choosing how to use funding

We will take a flexible approach to approving funds to ensure the scheme can meet individual’s needs and aspirations. Requests will be assessed against these criteria:

  • Potential benefit to the applicants’ academic achievement and ability to thrive at school
  • Potential benefit to the applicants’ health and well-being
  • Impact of the applicants’ opportunity to thrive in sporting, social or cultural fields
  • Impact on applicants’ ability to integrate into Wokingham borough successfully
  • Value for money

Requests will be made via the refugee and host family through our case workers. These are our officers who are acting as a liaison, support and advocate for the families coming from Ukraine.

Donation of goods

Donations of goods will also be accepted under the scheme. However, only those goods specifically requested or approved by our teams can be accepted.

This is because the scheme is designed, as far as possible, to put control in the hands of young refugees and the meet their specific needs.

Community support

We would like to be able to provide more than just the basics, and we believe the community supports this, which is why we have set up the borough council’s first crowd funding campaign.

We have more than 350 refugees already confirmed as coming to Wokingham Borough and the overwhelming majority are women and children.

This is the largest arrival of refugees the borough has ever seen and is part of the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the aftermath of the Second World War. It is not business as usual.

The funding from central government is £10,400 per refugee, which is welcome but will probably not even cover the basics of what the council must provide: school places and English language support, adult and children’s social care and safeguarding, household checks, administration of payments and housing in the case of refugees who relationship with the host family breaks down.

How it has been used so far 

Here’s what the money has gone towards, as of early September, and how it has helped Ukrainian children in the borough so far:

  • a school trip to Marwell Zoo
  • a tennis club during the school holidays
  • a children’s camp to integrate with other local children
  • bought musical instruments and paid to continue lessons they used to have
  • see a specialist to help with extreme shyness
  • swimming lessons for two children in Wokingham
  • join a gymnastics club
  • run a climbing event for 30 Ukrainian children
  • join a football club in Woodley

Still want to help

The crowdfunding has now closed but if you'd like to make a contribution we may be able to find another way to contribute. Email to find out more.


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