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Ukrainians hail council response as Edinburgh welcomes 5,000 refugees

Council Leader Cammy Day visits Ukraine Welcome Hub (Edinburgh City Council/PA)
Council Leader Cammy Day visits Ukraine Welcome Hub (Edinburgh City Council/PA)

Edinburgh has now welcomed 5,000 Ukrainian refugees with some now taking up roles as interpreters with City of Edinburgh Council to assist with the influx of new arrivals that are expected.

Alan Sufi and his family were one of the first to arrive in the city from Kharkiv in Ukraine.

He started work with the council last week helping other new arrivals from the resettlement hub on High Street.

Mr Sufi praised the response from the council.

Alan Sufi arrived in Edinburgh with his family and is now working as an interpreter supporting others (City of Edinburgh Council/PA)

“Within three days of arriving in Edinburgh my children were at school,” he said.

“Edinburgh Council has been like a parent to us, taking our situation to heart and providing every opportunity to help.

“If I can do the same for others, I will feel good.”

His family have been enjoying Edinburgh’s tourist sites including Newhaven Harbour, Lauriston Castle and have even found the time to climb Arthur’s Seat.

“Edinburgh is a great place.

“It is full of history, tradition and monuments.

“Based on that you make associations about what the people will be like, but it’s not so.

“I’ve found Edinburgh to be open and modern.”

Mr Sufi has been assisting others from Ukraine resettle in Edinburgh (City of Edinburgh Council/PA)

Mr Sufi said the weather in the city has been “astonishing”.

He said: “On the day we arrived, it was windy and raining, sunny and snowy, all at the same time.”

Working as a photographer in Kharkiv prior to the Russian invasion, Mr Sufi mused about the future of the “great city” after the war.

“I know it won’t be the same, even when the war is over.

“It will need many, many years of recovery.

“But for Ukrainians, they carry home with them.

“They don’t live there, Ukraine lives in them,” he said.

Nataliia Danova, 34 from Kyiv, arrived in Edinburgh in March and is now working as an interpreter for City of Edinburgh Council.

She said Ukrainians do not really see themselves as refugees.

“As a people we have a very strong will to work and as soon as possible,” she said.

Nataliia Danova has been working as an interpreter for City of Edinburgh Council (City of Edinburgh Council/PA)

“Generally we are arriving in Edinburgh with skills which are valuable to employers, and we would rather work.

Ms Danova previously worked as a crisis manager in Kyiv prior to the Russian invasion which she said has given her good experience for her role at the council, where she is working on the resettlement process through Homes for Ukraine.

She says those arriving who do not speak English are “very willing to learn.”

“By taking English language courses, more Ukrainians will be able to find work, and be able to pay for things like childcare so that they can stay in work.

“Employers in Edinburgh should consider making roles accessible to Ukrainians coming here – like the Council is doing.

“That would be great to see.

“Everyone has so much to offer,” she said.

Resettling this number of volunteers has been a huge logistical challenge for the council, but they have been ably assisted by a team of officers and volunteers at the welcome hub in Gogarburn in the West of the city.

  • 2,222 Ukrainian Refugees have been welcomed at Edinburgh’s welcome centre.
  • 3,465 volunteer hours
  • 496 shifts have been worked
  • 536 rucksacks filled with donations and support to arrivals and their hosts
  • 1,175 hours of translation have taken place

Visiting the Hub and the Ukrainian Club ahead of World Refugee Day on Monday June 20, Council Leader Cammy Day thanked volunteers and officers and hailed the way in which the city has come together to support those in desperate need.

He said: “Seeing families arrive and find their feet in Edinburgh has brought home the sheer scale of our city’s ongoing response to this crisis.

“It was so moving to hear the lengths to which our staff and volunteers are going to in order to provide the best possible welcome to our Ukrainian guests as they take their first steps towards a life of safety here in Scotland.

“Some are working incredibly long hours, seven days a week, to be there to help and to ensure everyone can get a roof over their head regardless of what time of day it is.

“We know that Edinburgh’s population swells in August so we’re already looking at how we can manage capacity and speaking to the Scottish Government about this.

“Because services will be under strain, we need to work together with our partners and those in the private sector so that all arrivals continue to receive what they need.

“The way in which Edinburgh has come together to support people in such desperate need of our help fills me with hope and pride and I have no doubt we’ll continue to pull out all the stops for as long as it takes.”