We’re working closely with communities across Scotland to ensure people fleeing the war against Ukraine feel welcome and are receiving the right services and support.

Since March 2022, nearly 23,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Scotland in search of safety. Thousands of people across the country have signed up to host people displaced from Ukraine.

Scottish Refugee Council is working in partnership with the Scottish Government, COSLA other organisations across the country to help people displaced from Ukraine feel at home in Scotland and play an active role in their new communities.

We identify, mobilise and coordinate community groups and support them to work alongside local authorities to understand and address the needs of people arriving from Ukraine. And coordinate support from local communities

Creating Community Networks

We’re working with local authorities, national organisations, the public sector, refugee-supporting groups and people from Ukraine to create Community Integration Networks across Scotland.

The networks bring a range of partners together to discuss issues on a community level and work with one another to ensure Ukrainians are represented and can access the support and services they need.

This approach aims to improve communication, collaboration and understanding between different organisations so they can work more efficiently and effectively together. It also helps build a better picture of the needs of new arrivals and the specific issues they face in each local authority area.

Ruby Serber, the Regional Integration Coordinator for our Ukraine response said: “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. 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.”

Ukrainian Community Integration Networks have been established in Dundee, Glasgow, the Highlands and Perth and Kinross. Talks about starting new networks are also underway in communities across Scotland.

A member of the Highland Community Integration Network told us: “I am finding the meetings really helpful and increasingly useful. Thanks also for welcoming Ira [a member of the Ukrainian community]. I’m sure she’ll be an asset and has already proved her worth by highlighting a really important issue.”

Read Ruby’s staff story to find out more about how she helps synchronise community support for people displaced from Ukraine.

Establishing a Ukrainian Collective

Working alongside local communities, we’ve established a Ukrainian Collective to represent Ukrainians living in Scotland and advocate on their behalf.

The Collective is made up of volunteers from Ukraine who come together to discuss key issues affecting their communities. They then propose practical solutions which will inform and influence the Scottish Government and other service providers.

Community Development Officer, Andrii Nadych, helps coordinate the Collective. He said: “It’s not just about consulting people about the challenges they are facing but also asking for their input on solutions that could help them and others in their communities.”

“It makes me happy to see Ukrainians using their knowledge and qualifications to improve the situation for other Ukrainians in Scotland. I’m excited to see the results. It’s important that some solutions are suggested based on the opinion and experience of communities affected.

“It’s good to see refugee communities treated as people with a contribution and an opinion that matters. They can feel empowered and are not just subjects of some decision. They can be active in making their life easier and the life of their community easier.”

Read Andrii’s staff story to find out more about how he’s helping Ukrainians to play an active role in their new communities.

Giving Ukrainians in Scotland a voice

The Collective is split into three subject groups, one for each of the main issues: language barriers; employment; and accommodation. All three groups met in person at a gathering in Edinburgh on 18 February to present on their findings and share their ideas.

Oleksandr Chernykh, a lawyer who is currently living in Aberdeen, chairs The Employment Group. He said: “There are teachers, doctors, accountants, oil industry specialists but they can’t find work [in their area of expertise] because their qualifications aren’t recognised in the UK. Employers don’t want to take us because they don’t know how long we will stay here.

“It’s very important that Ukrainians are involved in finding solutions. All of us have different experiences. It’s important that we have a voice in Scotland. We are here today because someone is listening to us.”

Oleksandra Novatska, an artist and designer based in Dumfries, chairs the Language Group. She said: “Back in Ukraine, we had a lot of Crimean refugees in our area so I know some of the problems that people face and how integration works. I have experience in how to solve problems through culture. For me The Language Group is also about culture, not just language. I know we’ll find some solutions and we can help people.”

“I was very happy to know there was an organisation like Scottish Refugee Council here. It’s difficult for people to go from one problem – the war – to another problem – being a displaced person. When you come from a different culture, you don’t know what’s going on. When you find some help, it’s really great.”

Read more about our Ukraine response

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb