The atrocities in Ukraine are heart-breaking and the council has made it clear that it condemns the unprovoked attack by Russia on the sovereign country of Ukraine and its people.
Many people in Ukraine are living in fear while they are trapped in a war zone and are uncertain for their future.
The council fully supports Ukraine and its people and we have lit the council’s civic centre headquarters and Airdrie’s Boulevard of Lights in blue and yellow to demonstrate solidarity with them.
A £15,000 charitable donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has been made by the council to assist with the Ukraine emergency following full agreement from elected members. The donation to the DEC is to help fund its members' charities’ UK-based activities whose resources are being put under considerable strain as they respond to the crisis affecting Ukraine.
The DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently at times of crisis overseas. By pooling resources to work as one campaign, the DEC co-ordinates the UK public’s response to overseas disasters, assisting people in life and death situations and saving, protecting and rebuilding lives through effective humanitarian response.
Councillors also unanimously agreed to terminate an old town twinning arrangement with Gatchina in Russia, making clear our feelings of horror and outrage over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
But we would like to do more to help.
The council has a proud and compassionate record of supporting people escaping terror by making them feel welcome in our towns and communities, as we have done with people fleeing from Afghanistan and Syria in previous conflicts.
We stand ready at a local level to offer support to people from Ukraine who arrive in North Lanarkshire. We will work with our colleagues in COSLA to make sure people feel welcome in our communities.
What is the council doing to help?
We are ready to assist and work with local partners to support anyone who will be resettled through the government schemes, such as the Ukraine Family Scheme (family visa), Homes for Ukraine (Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme), and the Scottish Government super sponsor route, which is accessed through the UK Government’s online portal.
The council and local Registered Social Landlords are in discussions about potential accommodation that could be made available to people arriving from Ukraine through the Scottish Government’s Scottish Super Sponsor Scheme.
When people start to arrive, they will need support to make friends, learn languages and new skills, access support and practical advice. We are already working with three voluntary organisations to plan for this and there may be opportunities to donate or volunteer at these organisations. We are looking to restart the already established Befriending and ESOL Volunteering programmes and as soon as we know more we will provide up to date details.
What can you do to help?
Although many of us feel helpless, the people in our towns and communities are kind and want to do something to help. The situation in Ukraine is changing daily but as with most crises, women, children, marginalized communities, and the poor will be those most affected.
Although you may want to donate food, shelter, blankets and clothing, the people who know what is needed most, are the humanitarian charities working on the ground.
The best thing you can do is make a cash donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Humanitarian appeal. The DEC is a coalition of 15 registered charities that have vast experience in providing emergency aid. The funds donated by people are then used by charities inside Ukraine and at its borders to provide people fleeing the war with food, water, medical assistance, protection and trauma care.
To donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Ukraine Humanitarian appeal visit dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
People from Ukraine arriving in the UK
There are currently two routes to enter the UK for people from Ukraine fleeing their country.
The family visa route and the Homes for Ukraine programme.
The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK and is free to apply. It means that applicants will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.
The Homes for Ukraine programme launched on 14 March where residents in the UK can register to open their home to those fleeing the war in Ukraine for a period of at least six months.
This scheme offers a route to those who want to come to the UK who have someone here willing to provide them with a home. It will enable individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to volunteer accommodation and provide a route to safety for those forced to escape their homeland.
People eligible for the scheme must be a Ukrainian national (or an immediate family member of one) and were resident in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022.
People arriving under this scheme will be able to:
- Live and work in the UK for up to three years
- Access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and English language tuition
Phase One of the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme opened on Friday,18 March for visa applications from those who wish to travel to the UK and who have named people in the UK willing to sponsor them. Either the prospective sponsor or the person wishing to be sponsored will be able to complete the application. There is one single application for both parties but one form is required per individual travelling under the scheme.
The Scottish Government has also announced that it will act as a ‘super sponsor’, through its Warm Scots Welcome programme, which means the Scottish Government’s route removes the need for applicants to be matched to a named individual before they are cleared to travel to the UK through the visa system.
The Scottish programme is available as an option to Ukrainians when applying for a visa under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, by opting for the organisational sponsor route, and selecting “The Scottish Government” from the drop-down box in response to the question “Which organisation is sponsoring you?”
If you would like more information on being a community sponsor through the UK Government scheme, please visit the Homes for Ukraine website for more details.