Scots charity ‘inundated’ with offers of shelter for Ukrainian refugees

More than 800 people have signed up to the Room for Refugees initiative since the Russian invasion began, with over 300 joining in the first three days of March.

The hosting network connects people with available accommodation to refugees and asylum seekers in need.

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As recently as last autumn, it was only attracting around 35 new hosts a month, but the upsurge in registrations shows how events in Ukraine have spurred people to help.

Over one million have crossed Ukraine’s borders since Russia launched its first barrage of strikes on 24 February, and the United Nations has warned that it could lead to the “largest refugee crisis this century,” with as many as four million people fleeing the country in the weeks and months ahead.

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It is expected that the UK could welcome more than 200,000 refugees from Ukraine as part of the mass human exodus from the eastern European nation.

In the face of criticism that the UK government was not doing enough, a scheme allowing close relatives of Ukrainian nationals settled in the UK is being widened to include adult parents, grandparents, children over the age of 18, and siblings. UK firms will also be able to sponsor a Ukrainian entering the country.

A woman and a young boy sit in a bus before fleeing the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve. Picture: Manu Brabo/AFP/Getty

Positive Action in Housing, the Glasgow-based charity which runs the Room for Refugees programme, said it had been “inundated” with letters, volunteering inquiries, and offers of shelter for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Some 834 people have registered to host refugees since the start of the crisis.

Robina Qureshi, its chief executive officer, said: “The number of new registered hosts on the Room for Refugees network are very much related to political events in the world.

“As uncertainty continues in our world, it is up to civic society, and decent people everywhere to reach out, connect to our own humanity and do good.

“Our charity’s support base continues to grow and now numbers several thousand people and organizations from all walks of life and experience.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there should not be a limit placed on the number of refugees the UK takes in from Ukraine.

She said she would not put an “arbitrary number” on how many could seek safety in Scotland, and pointed out that the Republic of Ireland has scrapped all visa requirements, with the EU agreeing to let in refugees for up to three years without first having to seek asylum.

The Scottish Refugee Council also said that the UK measures “just doesn’t go far enough.”

It explained: “Changes to existing visa routes like this are simply inadequate to bring refugees to safety from a warzone. We need to see the UK government offer solutions which match the gravity of mass displacement from a conflict on our doorstep.

“The UK government must follow Ireland and waive all visa requirements for Ukrainians and offer them a temporary protection status.”

The Scottish Government is working with local authorities across the country on the practicalities of how to house people escaping the conflict.

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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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