West Lothian Councilors put disused buildings on standby for accommodating Ukrainian refugees



Ukrainian families feeling the invasion by Russia have begun to arrive in West Lothian to stay with loved ones.

Councilors have also agreed to put centers such as the mothballed Low Port outdoor center on standby should the need arise to provide temporary accommodation if there is a surge in numbers.

West Lothian Council’s community regeneration service is already working with the third sector in its program to help families.

Some families have already arrived to stay with family members while the council awaits clarification from the Government and from the local authorities umbrella group COSLA on how the aid schemes will roll out.

Westminster has launched a scheme for sponsors willing to help house refugees.

It is estimated that more than three million people have fled the country following the invasion by Russian forces a month ago.

An amendment from Councilor Chris Horne suggested the Low Port Center could be brought into use, if needs be as a transition center before more permanent housing could be found.

The amendment suggested: “Council officers consider properties owned by the council outwith the housing portfolio, and report back to all councilors before the Easter recess on what properties could be made available at short notice should they prove useful for the needs of any refugee, or group of refugees.”

Deputy chief executive Graeme Struthers outlined work undertaken so far, stressing that it was a dynamic and fast changing environment.

His report added: “COSLA have advised that they will be in contact with local authorities as this becomes clearer and with further information on the evolving response from UK Government, however it is envisaged that the council will be required to provide direct support similar to that provided under both the Syrian and Afghan Resettlement Schemes, but may also be required to provide a coordination role with people providing accommodation under the UK Government’s Home for Ukraine Scheme.

“It has been reported in the media that local authorities will also receive £10,500 in extra funding per refugee for support services – with more for children of school age, however as yet no details have been received from the Home Office. Further information will be reported to committee once details become available of support being requested by and/or resources being provided by the UK and Scottish Government.”

West Lothian has a well established record of helping refugees fleeing war zones. The council has supported 71 people (15 families) in total under the Syrian Refugees Resettlement scheme, with 11 people (two families) having moved out of the area.

To date the council is supporting six people (one family) under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme.

In the last six years the direct support the council has supplied to refugees has covered these areas: Interpretation and translation skills, housing, help finding employment, benefits and financial Inclusion, health & social care, early years care and education, social and community and culture and faith contacts.

West Lothian Council’s own link to its website is here.

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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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