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Edinburgh Inaugurates Welcome Hub for Ukrainian Refugees

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On November 23rd, Council Leader Cammy Day inaugurated a fresh Welcome Hub in Edinburgh designed to support Ukrainians, alongside an adjoining warehouse dedicated to aid and donation efforts.

The Council Leader was joined by Chief Executive Andrew Kerr, Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, Chair of the Associations of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) Edinburgh Branch, Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC), Bridie Ashrowan, Chief Officer of Volunteer Edinburgh, Paul Wilson, and other key stakeholders. 

The Hub is at the Vega Building in Flassches Yard to the west of the city and was previously based at the NatWest Group’s Gogarburn House. The Hub is the primary entry point for direct arrivals into Scotland of which there have been over 11,000 since February 2022. Volunteers have contributed over 7,000 hours of welcoming work at Edinburgh Airport during this period.

The main Council support team is now based at the Hub, for the approximately 3,000 Ukrainians (representing up to 900 households), currently in Edinburgh. Over 350 children and young people are in our education system.

This support now represents the shift in focus from triaging new arrivals to offering longer-term help and support. From accessing advice on housing, education, employment, and other key service areas to meeting new people and developing social ties, this facility is key.

The Local Employability Partnership is made up of 12 key organisations whose collective efforts have directly supported over 1,200 individuals and helped 75% of displaced Ukrainians move into employment. The main focus is now on upskilling, development and closing the wage gap between qualifications and experience in Ukraine and Scotland.

The aid warehouse is also an integral component of the city’s response. Not only does this allow vital supplies to be delivered to Ukraine but it also provides essentials for the Ukrainian population in Edinburgh.

More information on support for Ukrainians in Edinburgh can be found on our website.

“Since the first days of Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine, Edinburgh has stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and that solidarity and support remains undiminished.

“It was fantastic to show the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, around our new Welcome Hub and aid warehouse. It was particularly fitting to do so alongside some of the key members of the Edinburgh partnership who have integral to the city’s monumental response to supporting Ukrainians into the Capital. The work that has been undertaken during this period has been nothing short of excellent.

“As we shift our focus from welcoming our Ukrainian guests to helping with settling into their new lives here in Edinburgh, this strength of partnership is as important as ever. I’d like to wholeheartedly thank all our partners and the people of Edinburgh for all their efforts. We’re also very grateful to NatWest Group for allowing us to use Gogarburn House as the first Hub location and for their continued support.

“To our Ukrainian friends currently residing in Edinburgh, I’d like to repeat my message that this city is your home for as long as you require it. We’re continuing to identify long-term housing opportunities for all our residents and will continue to work with the Scottish Government going forward to identify funding opportunities.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse, welcoming, and cosmopolitan city and our Ukrainian neighbours add much to Edinburgh’s social and cultural fabric.”

Council Leader Cammy Day

“It was a huge pleasure today to meet representatives of Edinburgh’s Ukrainian community, third sector and local authority partners. This demonstrates the strength of partnership in Edinburgh to support Ukrainians. The Edinburgh welcome hub and aid warehouse is a fantastic initiative, offering support to Ukrainians fleeing the war, supporting Ukrainians to settle here in the longer term, as well as delivering aid to those in Ukraine.

“It is a great example of the voluntary and community sector working in partnership with Edinburgh City Council. The UK Government’s support for our friends in Ukraine is absolute, and I am very pleased that we have been able to offer refuge in Scotland to so many Ukrainians.”

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack

“Over the last 20 months, our community has grown to over 3,000 people who have sought safety in Edinburgh.  With the support of partners, volunteers, and external agencies, we’ve been able to expand our work at the Ukrainian Community Centre to provide ongoing support and a safe social space for the community. 

“Today was a great opportunity to meet with the Secretary of State to express our gratitude for the support of the UK Government and to press for further support particularly around providing certainty on routes to longer term resettlement which is one of the biggest concerns for our community.  We look forward to an ongoing, and open, dialogue with the UK Government.”

Chair of the Associations of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) Edinburgh Branch, Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk

“Today was a great opportunity to meet with the Secretary of State to highlight the vital work of Edinburgh’s voluntary and community sector, and the ongoing partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to support Ukrainians seeking safe refuge in the city.  Since the start of the war in February 2022, Edinburgh’s community, and voluntary sector – with the support of EVOC and Volunteer Edinburgh, the City of Edinburgh Council, and all public partners – have worked closely to mobilise partners. This has delivered a range of support services including food provision, mental health services, employability support and cultural experiences. The impact has resulted people getting jobs, learning English, having early mental health support and importantly, experiences of friendship that are incredibly moving to hear about and key to life in a new country after fleeing war. 

“Looking ahead, it is essential that community and voluntary sector organisations in Edinburgh are effectively resourced so that they can continue to play a key role in the long term, sustainable integration of the Ukrainian community in Edinburgh – for as long as Ukrainians require to seek safety.”

Bridie Ashrowan, Chief Executive of EVOC

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