Concerns Ukrainian refugees coming to Scotland could be treated like ‘a puppy for Christmas’

The call comes from Gary Gray who runs the volunteer organization, supporting 750 Scottish hosts taking in Ukrainian families under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The idea for the organization came about when Mr Gray and his wife decided to take in a mother and a daughter and felt there was not enough help.

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Scothosts develops links with charities, as well as helping hosts with the visa process, travel information and support to help Ukrainian families get to Scotland. It is also helping families prepare for when lodgers arrive.

There are concerns Ukrainian refugees could become homeless when they enter Scotland (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images).

Mr Gray said: “We started two weeks ago. We were just people looking to host families ourselves and we rapidly found there was no information out there so we had to set this up ourselves.”

Juggling the organization alongside his full-time job, Mr Gray from Bathgate said hosts worry accommodation will not be appropriate for Ukrainians, or they cannot afford to host, or people may decide to withdraw their offer, leaving Ukrainians homeless.

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Mr Gray said: “There’s probably over a hundred things to consider to take families in so it’s a huge problem.

Gary Gray who runs a volunteer organization supporting 750 Scottish hosts taking in Ukrainian families under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

“A lot of people are viewing taking Ukrainian families in as a puppy for Christmas, but this is a long-term complicated and difficult process.

“We are worried about the potential homeless situation. People may get over here, get settled with their host, and then the relationship breaks down and they become homeless.”

The Scottish Government has put in place over £15 million to support those at the frontline of Ukrainian aid efforts, such as local authorities.

But Mr Gray said he has seen no sign of safe guarding measures on homes being put in place.

“Checks will be done after people go through the visa process and the peoples themselves [Ukrainian refugees] are getting checked, but the actual house [of the host] isn’t getting done until after.”

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Shadow Social Housing, Housing and Local Government Secretary, said he “warmly welcomes” organizations such as Scothost in assisting with the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

He added: “They are right to call for reassurances that those who have signed up will have the information and resources they need.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The generosity of people who want to open their homes for Ukrainians fleeing the illegal invasion of their country is heart-warming. We have been working closely with a range of partners so that local authorities and individual hosts have clear guidance.

“We have agreed an approach with COSLA and initial guidance for local authorities has been published on the Scottish Government website.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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