The Ukraine Collaborative Pro bono Project: How we supported Ukrainians navigate the legal labyrinth in the UK
The war in Ukraine has led to more than 6.2 million refugees globally, many of whom sought refuge in the UK. To support them with understanding the complex system, we formed a pro bono collaborative with commercial law firms called the Ukrainian Collaborative Pro Bono Project (UCPBP) to provide bespoke advice on the numerous schemes that the UK had set up for Ukrainians in early 2022.
Law firms DLA Piper; Eversheds Sutherland; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; and White & Case were part of this collaborative project. We engaged a specialist legal supervisor, Stéphane Gentili of Gentili Stark Solicitors, to train, guide, and supervise pro bono volunteers from the participating firms, who formed the backbone of the UCPBP.
We offered a variety of free legal advice on utilising the schemes that the UK had set up specially for Ukrainians in early 2022, including Homes for Ukraine Scheme, Ukraine Extension Scheme, and Ukraine Family Scheme. A big part of our effort was to help our clients understand the advantages and disadvantages of using these schemes vs applying for asylum in the UK.
Although this collaborative project will end at the end of 2023 – due to the increasing complexity of the UK’s immigration laws and its impact on pro bono projects such as the UCPBP – we are pleased with the impact it has had on our clients’ cases. Throughout the course of this project, the UCPBP advised on 41 cases, which involved at least 90 individuals. From these, more than 10 clients had positive outcomes following their engagement with the project, and many have had applications submitted to the Home Office and await the outcomes.
Our impact report below illustrates the successes of this project, our learnings, and recommendations for the future.