Meet Ruby, the Regional Integration Coordinator for our Ukraine Response. We caught up with her to find out how she’s working with groups and organisations across Scotland to help synchronise support for people displaced from Ukraine.
Hi Ruby, tell us a bit about your job
The main part of my job is bringing together the local authority, Third Sector, and Ukrainian communities in a particular area to share information and coordinate support available. This involves:
- speaking to Ukrainian communities to understand the key issues they are facing;
- talking to local authorities to understand how resettlement works in their area, helping them identify any gaps, and who or what could fill those gaps;
- and, meeting with charities and community groups to understand what they do, how they can support Ukrainians arriving in their area, and what help they might need to do that.
Then I create Ukrainian Community Integration Networks to bring these different groups together. The main aims are to make sure Ukrainian communities have a voice at this level, for everyone to know what support is available, and to discuss where there are gaps.
Another important part of my job is letting people know what Scottish Refugee Council does and what support we can offer to people arriving from Ukraine. For example our free helpline, free information sessions, and the factsheets we’ve created in Ukrainian and Russian.
What drew you to Scottish Refugee Council?
I always knew I wanted to work for an organisation that makes a difference to people’s lives. Volunteering for Care4Calais really opened my eyes to the situation for refugees. After I graduated and moved to Glasgow, I volunteered as an English teacher with Govan Community Project and started helping run a language exchange group at Glasgow Autonomous Space. I’m passionate about strengthening communities and challenging the issues faced by refugees. When I saw this opportunity at Scottish Refugee Council, I knew it was the perfect job for me.
What’s the most challenging thing about your role?
Working in so many local authority areas across Scotland is challenging. Sometimes it can be hard to keep on top of what’s happening and where.
Each region is different, so I need to learn about local areas and adapt my approach to fit the local context. There are common issues that affect all refugee communities across the country, for example, housing, transport, and access to English classes, but the solutions can be different depending on the area.
What do you find most rewarding?
Seeing people get involved in their community and feel more settled in a new place.
When I set up my first Community Integration Network in Perth and Kinross and it went well, I could see that what I was doing was actually useful to people. Meeting others who are in a similar situation to you is massive, as is knowing that you have people there who can help you.
What’s the best thing about working for Scottish Refugee Council?
The great people I get to work with and learn from, both within Scottish Refugee Council and across Scotland. And seeing the difference that being part of a community can make. I also love going to events and meeting lots of different people – especially during Refugee Festival Scotland!
So many things go into creating a life that you don’t necessarily think about until you’ve had to leave your home and start again somewhere new. Therefore, the job is very varied. For example, one minute I could be thinking about English classes, the next minute it’s mental health support, or transport, or where people can get support to find work. Then there are the social activities and local groups that help people to make friendships and build connections.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I really love being outdoors – cycling, rock climbing, wild swimming, playing volley ball in the park with friends. I also help run a community centre and a garden, which is turning an area of disused land into a communal space to grow vegetables for people who don’t have access to nutritious food.
Tell us something interesting
In the summer of 2020 I lived in the woods for three months as part of protests against HS2. I built a treehouse to try and stop the destruction of a nature reserve.