A new strategy will aim to move Ukrainian refugees from temporary accommodation to permanent housing in Scotland.
The Warms Scots Future paper, developed by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the Scottish Refugee Council and Cosla, sets out the priorities in the next phase of supporting Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion.
With more than 25,500 Ukrainians settled in Scotland, the priorities include reducing the use of temporary accommodation, boosting access to settled housing and keeping human rights at the centre of all integration efforts.
More than £1 million is being made available to third sector organisations to deliver these priorities for the benefit of Ukrainians under the strategy.
Councils will also receive a further £3.2 million in 2023-24 to support staffing of resettlement teams.
Another £30 million is being distributed to local authorities to support Ukrainians into their own homes, including through private and social renting.
Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville launched the strategy at an arts and wellbeing event at the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain’s (AUGB) Edinburgh hub.
Ms Somerville said: “Scotland acted swiftly to provide an immediate place of safety to Ukrainians following the illegal Russian invasion. We have offered sanctuary to more than 25,500 people since the war outbreak.
“Many of those arrivals have now started to rebuild their lives in Scotland – gaining employment, enrolling children in schools, and settling into communities. As we look to the future, it is right that our approach to supporting Ukrainians reflects these changing circumstances.
“This paper sets out the steps we and our partners will take to help Ukrainians continue to settle into life in Scotland for the longer term. Working closely with charities and local authorities, this will include support for integration – from English lessons, to employment support, to accessing mental health services – and help even more people into settled housing.
“We are clear that we want Scotland to be home for every Ukrainian living here for as long as they need it to be; and this includes a need to establish clear routes to settlement in Scotland for those who wish to stay here. We will also continue to press the UK Government for much-needed clarity on options available for people displaced from Ukraine when the three-year visa period ends.”
Chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council Sabir Zazai said: “The illegal invasion of Ukraine reminds us how quickly and devastatingly any of our lives can change. It underlines the lifesaving importance of providing refugee protection in an era of mass conflict and global instability.
“At Scottish Refugee Council we’re proud to have played a part in supporting people through this emergency, and we’ll continue to be there for people from Ukraine to do all we can to support them through the process of rebuilding their lives here.”
Cosla community wellbeing spokesperson Maureen Chalmers said: “I cannot underestimate the tremendous effort it has taken councils and all partners to ensure that our Ukrainian guests have found a safe and welcoming place to stay in Scotland.
“The publication of the Warm Scots Future paper represents the start of a conversation on how we can move from an emergency response to a long term and more sustainable approach to resettlement.”
Ukrainian Consul Andrii Kuslii said: “By offering comprehensive assistance, Scotland stands unwaveringly with the people of Ukraine, extending a message of hope and unity.
“The actions of the Scottish Government and its partners not only provide immediate relief but also send a powerful message to the world about the importance of coming together to support and protect vulnerable populations during times of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton criticised the Scottish Government’s super sponsor visa scheme having been closed for more than a year, despite the ongoing conflict.
“When the scheme was paused I warned that the tests for reopening the scheme were designed to be impossible to meet, and lo and behold that has turned out to be the case,” he said.
“The big promises of Scottish ministers were never matched by giving local authorities the necessary resources to vet volunteer hosts or find appropriate housing.”
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