Ukrainian refugees stuck in hotel rooms for months amid criticism of Scottish super sponsorship scheme

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Most of the refugees who have arrived under the Scottish Government’s super sponsorship scheme are waiting in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where ‘welcome centres’ have been set up – with the majority arriving in the Edinburgh council area, which Reportedly began matching small numbers of refugees to hosts this week, 100 days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

The Super Sponsorship scheme, which has been set up by the Scottish and Welsh governments and is not available to refugees wishing to live in England, allows refugees to travel here and be supported by local councils until until permanent accommodation can be found.

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Glasgow City Council admitted that 267 Ukrainians were still living in hotels in the city this week, while only 11 were placed in council-run accommodation. It’s unclear how many, if any, have been matched with hosts.

Refugee children living in one of the ‘container cities’ in Lviv, Ukraine, for people displaced from other parts of the country during the war.

Edinburgh City Council would not disclose data to The Scottishnor is local authority coordination group Cosla, which is tasked with helping match families across Scotland from reception centres.

The Scottish Government says it does not have a breakdown of how many people have already been put up with hosts.

It comes as the government reiterated its “warm Scottish welcome” to those seeking safety in Scotland as the war in Ukraine reaches its 100th day.

The latest figures from the Home Office show that only a quarter of those granted a visa under the super sponsorship scheme have actually arrived in Scotland, and many are said to be put off by uncertainty over long-term accommodation term and cost of the trip. in Scotland – which in private matches has often been paid for by the host.

Since the opening of the Homes for Ukraine program, 1,887 people have arrived under the super sponsorship program, out of 7,642 visas issued. Of the 3,259 Ukrainians who obtained a visa to stay with a host they found privately, 1,860 settled in Scotland, or 57%.

Gary Gray, who set up a support group for Ukrainian refugees and their Scottish hosts, has received letters of support from politicians from all Scottish parties, including the SNP, calling for action on the treatment of arriving refugees through the super referral program.

He said he spoke to refugees who had been “stuck in hotels for months”.

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He said: ‘They get little support, I’ve seen volunteers come into hotels giving them board games so they have something to do. And since many of them are stuck in airport hotels, they feel trapped. But on the other hand, they don’t want to complain, because they are grateful for what they received, so they don’t say anything.

He said he was told the average length of stay in a hotel after arriving in Scotland was 19 days.

He said: “It’s not okay, I’ve been contacted by people who have been living in hotels since April. A mother and daughter family contacted me directly asking if they could come and stay with me. me, they are desperate. I had to tell them that I already had a family with me and that it was not possible.

Last weekend it was alleged that some refugees who were living in a hotel in Livingston were asked to move to Aberdeen without notice – although they have started settling in the area, where many of them were enrolled in classes at a local college. Edinburgh council and the Scottish government said there had been miscommunication and the refugees did not have to move against their will.

Former SNP minister Fiona Hyslop admitted in a letter to Mr Gray that the scheme needed improvement.

She wrote: “I understand that the majority of Ukrainian refugees who come to Scotland arrive via Edinburgh Airport, which means that Edinburgh City Council has responsibility for finding initial accommodation for those arriving at this This has led to some temporary accommodation having to be set up near the airport.

“It is clear however that there needs to be a faster triage of needs and an earlier distribution to councils across Scotland for temporary accommodation while our visitors await transfers to hosts and that is what the minister discusses with Cosla.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘The Scottish Government works under the UK Government’s Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme and has introduced the Super Sponsorship Scheme, removing the need to find a private sponsor before a person displaced from Ukraine need to travel. Over 6,000 visas have been sponsored by the Scottish Government to date.

“We work in partnership with local government and the third sector to ensure that everyone who arrives at our reception centers receives a ‘warm welcome to Scotland’, with access to temporary hotel accommodation, support in case of trauma and a translation.”

He added: “Our national matching service helps identify longer-term accommodation across Scotland, from the generous offers of accommodation made by Scots as well as properties from local authorities and housing associations. “

A spokeswoman for Cosla said it was unclear how many Ukrainian families had been matched with hosts across Scotland.

She said: “We don’t have those stats to share at this time.”

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