Scandal of thousands of Ukrainians still in temporary accommodation a year on from closure of super sponsor scheme 


Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has accused the Scottish Government of misleading Ukrainians who fled to Scotland. They did.

Mr Cole-Hamilton revealed that more than 3,000 Ukrainians  remain in temporary accommodation, a year on from the closure of the Scottish Government’s super sponsor scheme.

I have to report that in Edinburgh last month, I received an insight into the life for one of these refugees. It wasn’t pretty.

It was a woman on her own with three children. She had been given temporary accommodation in the city. Her husband was still in Ukraine, fighting for his country’s freedom from Russia.

The accommodation the woman had been allocated when she arrived in Scotland’s capital had been in a leafy suburb. Very middle class, a big house worth £500,000 and probably more, much more.

But her time there was drawing to a close. She and her family had now been allocated a house in a housing estate, a deprived area.

It appeared that there was no one there to help her with the move and she had no transport.

Fortunately a neighbour said she would help and drive the woman and her children out to their new home in the housing scheme.

I suppose that if you were in her position you could anticipate the real possibility that a police officer would be calling at your door with the terrible news that your husband had been killed in that awful war.

And that you would be at the end of your tether.

However, as I have mentioned before in this column, some politicians, particularly SNP politicians right now, will say anything in search of good publicity.

As of 20 June 2023, a total of 24,816 displaced people from Ukraine have arrived in the UK on a visa sponsored either by an individual Scottish sponsor or sponsored by the Scottish Government.

In July 2022 ministers claimed that the scheme was being “paused”, though Mr Cole-Hamilton warned at the time that such a pause was likely to be permanent. As a result no further Ukrainians have been able to obtain visas through the scheme for the past twelve months.

Despite these measures drastically reducing the number of arrivals, as of 5 June there were still 3,180 Ukrainians in welcome accommodation such as hotels and 765 onboard the MS Victoria cruise ship which is scheduled to depart in July.

Commenting on the figures, Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured left,  said: “According to the latest figures more than one in ten of those who reached Scotland are still stuck in temporary accommodation. Thousands of people are still living out of suitcases and in hotels.

“Scottish ministers were desperate for positive headlines but the big promises they made were never matched with the resources that local authorities needed to vet volunteer hosts or house these people properly.

“We have even learned of people travelling back to Ukraine for medical appointments and dental care because the missile attacks are less daunting than the waits in Scotland’s NHS.

“I warned a year ago that the “paused” scheme would never reopen. Yet despite cutting off this route to safety and vastly reducing the number of Ukrainians able to travel to Scotland, ministers have still not got their act together to ensure everyone is housed and in receipt of basic services.

“I am concerned that unless the new minister for migration takes urgent action to help local authorities, many of these families and individuals will be trapped in limbo, unable to get on with their lives.”

Well, so am I. And so should all right thinking Scots be concerned.

We should all make it known to the politicians just how we feel about this.

It’s a long way from the traditional ceud mile failte [one hundred thousand welcomes] people the world over have come to expect from our nation.

Making promises you cannot keep is dreadful. This truly is a scandal.

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