When Ukrainian refugees needed a home, people with a spare room were asked to open their doors.

At the time, the focus was on offering safe, emergency accommodation to those in need.

But almost a year on, refugees wanting to move out and live independently are faced with one of the biggest challenges of today’s society: housing.

Some Ukrainian living in Southampton are being asked for deposits worth six to 12 months’ rent - a requirement which makes it impossible for them to rent their own place.

READ MORE: One year on, have we become too used to the war in Ukraine?

Daily Echo:

Natallia Keasutska, 40, and her husband Viktor, 42, have been looking for a new place to live with their three kids since October.

After moving in with her sister-in-law six months ago, Natallia is looking forward to finding her own home.

However, she has struggled to have any tenancy agreed as she is being asked to pay six months’ rent upfront for a two-bedroom property.

She said: “We have some problems because we [can’t] find properties, because we have five members of family, and we don’t have enough salary.

“We have enough money only for two bedrooms but they couldn’t find a landlord who would like to rent for us for this property.

“[A] properties agent told us that we have two choices. We could pay it in advance for six months or one year. And when we choose six months, he told us, okay, I discussed you with the landlord, and I will answer tomorrow. And after all time, we have [received] negative decisions.”

The average rent for a two-bedroom property in Southampton is £1,174.

A six-month deposit would require Natallia to pay up to £7,000 upfront.

She said: “We are tired because we are all the time looking and we [can’t] find anything.”

READ MORE: Ukrainian refugees in Southampton are at risk of being homeless

Natallia’s story is similar to many Ukrainians looking to leave sponsored housing. 

Daily Echo: Melanie and Sam TudjarogluMelanie and Sam Tudjaroglu Melanie Tudjaroglu, who leads a Ukrainian support group, said: “A lot of them don’t have high-paying jobs because they don’t speak a lot of English.

“They don’t have any financial history in the UK which means landlords are then less likely to offer them housing.

“We try to support them at the group as much as possible but they just want their own house.”

According to Bridget Chapman, from Reset UK, a charity helping to house Ukrainians in the UK, this is part of a wider issue.

She said: “What this [does] is highlight that there is still a housing crisis across the UK.

“The issue is not that 100,000 are arriving in the UK from Ukraine because other countries have absorbed greater numbers, the issue is that we have existing issues with housing.”

Nearly 1,500 refugees from Ukraine have settled in the wider Southampton area under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Some 328 visa applications were made under the Home Office scheme by Ukrainians wanting to settle in Southampton. Of those, 268 were granted and 219 people arrived in Southampton.

Data shows 226 people arrived in Eastleigh under the scheme, 361 in the New Forest, 117 in Fareham, 87 in Gosport, and 422 in Test Valley.

When contacted by the Daily Echo, a spokesperson for Southampton City Council said: “Where people arrive in Southampton under the Ukraine Family Scheme and subsequently find themselves at risk of homelessness or unable to secure long-term accommodation, we encourage them to contact us as soon as possible so we can discuss their housing options.

“As the anniversary of the escalation of the war in Ukraine approaches, we remain committed to supporting our Ukrainian community.”