Kind-hearted Stirling residents offer to open doors to Ukrainian refugees

As the Ukraine crisis continues, some big-hearted Stirling residents are opening up their homes to help those displaced by the conflict.

The humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged country has caused millions to flee the fighting, with European nations stepping up to take on their share of refugees.

As part of the coordination efforts, generous people from around the world have signed up to the ‘Ukraine Take Shelter’ website to offer their own accommodation, including a number of entries from Stirling.

One of those getting involved is Paul Richmond, who runs a small catering firm in Stirling with wife Carole.

Their offer disabilities was motivated by the possible struggles of those with physical or learning caught up in the fighting, with the example of daughter Jessica – who lives with a learning disability and epilepsy – forefront in their minds.

Paul said: “You have to imagine what you would do under these circumstances and it feels as if it would be almost impossible to find a way out so we’re happy to provide any way to offer that help.

“The Ukrainian people generally need help but the subset of people finding it most difficult are those with disabilities.

“We have a son at university and a 14-year-old daughter who goes to Ochil House and then the pair of us. There are a couple of ensuite rooms available here so why not offer?”

Thousands of Ukrainians are expected to be welcomed across the UK over the coming weeks following the set-up of the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme – which allows Ukrainian nationals and their families to come here if they have a named sponsor.

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It has led those volunteering to host in their own homes to get in touch with some of those fleeing Ukraine, with Paul already hearing some of the stories of those desperate for help on the frontline.

“We’re trying to help one young guy who has a spinal injury and is paraplegic, he’s been getting rehab in Kyiv but obviously can’t any more”, Paul adds.

“One of the housing providers in Stirling has suitable accommodation for him so hopefully we can sort something out.

“A friend is also stuck just outside of Kyiv and asked me for help – one contact has given me another contact, it’s all just word of mouth at the moment.”

The Ukraine Take Shelter site contains nine separate offers of accommodation based in Stirling, while recent days have also seen pledges of housing support from people based in rural areas of the region including Balfron and Buchlyvie.

Another person opening their doors to help out those less fortunate is Dunblane and Bridge of Allan councilor Alasdair Tollemache – who expressed his desire to do more after helping out at a recent collection for the Ukraine appeal in Bridge of Allan.

Green councilor Alasdair Tollemache

He said: “Everyone has been shocked and appalled over the shocking events in Ukraine.

“In Dunblane and Bridge of Allan and the Stirling area there has been a tremendous response in terms of donations. We, as a family, would also like to offer a refugee family space in our own house so we registered with the Government scheme.

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“Any scheme should have some form of vetting process in place and local support agencies should be involved, such as the well respected Forth Valley Welcome.”

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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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