Ukrainians being put up in Worcester are “war refugees, not guests”, a city councillor said.

Tom Piotrowski took exception to the language used to describe refugees staying in the city during a council meeting on Wednesday (March 13).

The Communities committee was given an update on the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which was launched two years ago and allowed Ukrainians to move in with UK ‘sponsor households’.

A report said the first Ukrainian “guests” arrived in Worcester on April 7, 2022.

Worcester News: Yuliia and Ania Mosina were among the first Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Worcester in April 2022Yuliia and Ania Mosina were among the first Ukrainian refugees to arrive in Worcester in April 2022

“As of February 2, 2024, 266 guests sponsored by hosts in Worcester had arrived since the scheme began with a total of 148 still residing in the city,” it said.

The report said 148 Ukrainians still live in Worcester. Forty seven people have moved to larger UK cities, 64 have returned to Ukraine and seven have moved to other countries.

Cllr Piotrowski said: “It makes me proud to see how we’ve welcomed Ukrainian refugees.

“Will we get into trouble as a local authority if we start calling these people war refugees?

“Why do we keep on using this impersonal language of tourism? They are not here as our guests, they are here because we provided shelter for them, they are war refugees.”

Cllr Piotrowski also questioned what happens to the refugees when their visas come to an end.

“I think we should be on the forefront, perhaps talking to local authorities who are hosting these people fleeing war and brutal aggression to plead with the government of whatever colour to grant them settled status.

“From what I’ve seen they come here, make a success of their life and despite the heavy trauma they are a massive asset to our community.”

Council officers said the language of sponsors, hosts and guests is used to remain consistent with government guidance.

Cllr Neil Laurenson said he is “alarmed and annoyed” that Ukrainians in Worcester can no longer be sponsors thanks to new Government guidance.

“I can moan about it in this committee but this is [because of] central government. On the record, I think that’s a disgrace. Why? Ukrainian people are part of the community in Worcester.”