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Supporting Ukrainian Refugees in Scotland

The Scottish Government has ensured that all those who normally reside in Ukraine and who decide to come to Scotland will be able to access NHS services at no charge on the same basis as people living here.

This important support ensures that people will be able to access services such as maternity care, mental health services and treatment for specific conditions at no charge while they remain here.

People coming to Scotland from Ukraine to meet residency conditions for Scottish social security benefits will have immediate access to benefits such as Scottish Child Payment and Child Disability Payment.

It is another strand in the crucial support those fleeing the war in Ukraine will have in Scotland.  Under the UK Government’s announced visa routes for those fleeing the conflict there would be a charge for some NHS services. But not in Scotland.

The exemption in Scotland will also cover people who are ordinarily resident in Ukraine and were already in the UK on short-term visas when the conflict began, on 24 February 2022, and are extending or switching their visas because they cannot return to Ukraine. It covers spouses, civil partners and children.

The UK Government’s response to the refugee crisis has been widely criticised.

Commenting on the Ukrainian refugees settlement programme announced by the UK government. Professor Jenny Phillimore, University of Birmingham said:

“It is worth reminding ourselves that those who arrive will be extremely vulnerable, largely women and children, in a state of shock having lost their entire lives, and possibly loved ones, in just a matter of weeks.

“While the level of bureaucracy associated with Community Sponsorship is clearly not viable there is a need to safeguard the new arrivals against the possibility of abuse by hosts through a rapid vetting process. Further newcomers need to be informed about their rights and entitlements as they enter the UK and informed about the actions they can take if they face abuse or exploitation of any kind. The majority of people hosting refugees will not have any knowledge about the kinds of support they need.  

” Our evaluation of the Community Sponsorship programme showed that the support of local people is extremely important to refugees but that those volunteering with refugees need help to meet their needs.

“It is essential that the Government invests in information, advice and guidance for refugee hosts.

“The extent of sympathy and desire to help Ukrainian refugees in the UK runs counter to the Home Office’s attempts to reduce the number of arrivals.

“If the projections are to be believed offers of support will exceed demand for places.  The situation presents an opportunity to right the wrongs faced by Afghan refugees many of whom have been languishing in hotels with scant access to healthcare, schooling and employment opportunities since August. They and other forced migrants should not be forgotten as the world turns its attention to Ukraine.

“It is important to use the current wave of sympathy for Ukrainians to remind both the UK Government and population that forced migration affects people from many nations and that others already in the UK and planning to seek asylum here are just as worthy and in need of support as Ukrainians.

“Ideally access to the upcoming scheme could be extended to enable British people to sponsor refugees escaping from other conflicts, and the appalling situation in Ukraine used to remind people that all conflict causes displacement, trauma and that forced migrants need help from wherever they originate. “

Free Vetting Procedure in Scotland

In Scotland there is a free vetting procedure for those who wish to house Ukrainian refugees. Potential hosts who are matched with Ukrainians – whether they have offered to host adults only or families with children – will be subject to enhanced disclosure checks. Anyone aged over 16 in the same household as the sponsor will also be required to undergo the same checks.

These higher level disclosures contain information about spent criminal convictions, other relevant information provided by police, details of prescribed court orders and sex offender notification requirements, and information about whether the applicant is barred under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Act from working with children or protected adults or whether the applicant is under consideration for barring.

Potential hosts should wait to be contacted about disclosure checks.

The regulations will not apply to unaccompanied children and protected adults arriving from Ukraine. Separate arrangements for their care are being urgently considered by the Scottish Government.

Ukrainians who wish to seek refuge in Scotland should choose ‘The Scottish Government’ as their sponsor when applying.

 The process for Ukrainian applicants to apply is this

  • Go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-visa-under-the-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme#apply
  • Read the guidance there, then click “apply online”
  • After answering questions about whether you have a Ukrainian international passport, you will reach a page headed “Apply for the Ukraine Scheme”
  • Read the guidance there, then click “Apply now”
  • On the next screen, choose “Ukraine sponsorship scheme”, then “I am being sponsored by an organisation”
  • Click “Save and continue”
  • On the next page, headed “Sponsoring Organisation”, choose “The Scottish Government” from the dropdown box
  • Continue with your application.

Вітання від першого міністра Ніколи Стерджен для українців, які прибувають до Шотландії.

Від імені уряду Шотландії – та народу Шотландії – я щиро вітаю вас, вашу сім’ю та друзів у Шотландії. Я хочу запевнити вас, що тепер ви у безпеці.

Будь ласка, знайте, що до вас будуть ставитися з турботою, гідністю та повагою, незалежно від терміну вашого перебування.

Ми шоковані тим, що сталося з народом України. Ми хочемо допомогти і надати вам підтримку та послуги, які вам потрібні.

Відчиняючи для вас двері, ми також відкриваємо наші серця. Ми пропонуємо вам і вашим близьким не просто притулок, а теплий прийом і допомогу від усіх наших громадян.

Ласкаво просимо до Шотландії – нашого дому, і вашого також, на той термін, який вам потрібен.

sunflower garden under blue sky
Photo by K Zoltan on Pexels.com

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