Edinburgh Evening News finds out what happened next to Ukrainian refugees
In February, there was little news other than what was happening in Ukraine, as Russian tanks rolled in and Putin-endorsed missiles began firing.
Fast forward four months, and there’s a very real risk that the conflict in Ukraine will drift off the daily news list, becoming a daily constant. ‘Ukraine fatigue’ as Boris Johnson described it recently.
For local journalists here in the UK, there’s a very pertinent ‘what happened next’ story too. After a slow response, the UK government eventually made it possible for Ukrainian refugees to settle here. It seems reasonable to ask: What happened next?
In the case of the 5,000 Ukrainians who made Edinburgh their home in the weeks after the war began, the answer is: They became front page news!
Of those who have come to or through the city, 2,222 were met by Council officers and volunteers at Edinburgh’s Welcome Hub — where volunteers have clocked up at least 3,465 hours day and night over 496 shifts, providing 536 rucksacks filled with donations and support to arrivals and their hosts.
Many, reported Lauren Gilmour, are now finding work in the city as their settle down.
Alan Sufi and his family were the first people to arrive from Ukraine through Edinburgh’s Welcome Hub. Alan now has a job with the council, helping other new arrivals.
Alan told the Edinburgh Evening News: “Everyone has been very supportive and there are people from the Polish community who have been helping us too. We have a home. I have my job.”
Nataliia Danova, aged 34 from Kyiv, arrived from Ukraine in March. She has also been employed as a council interpreter. She told the EEN: “Generally we are arriving in Edinburgh with skills which are valuable to employers, and we would rather work.
“Every third Ukrainian arriving doesn’t speak English — but you’ll find that they’re willing to learn. By taking English language courses, more Ukrainians will be able to find work, and be able to pay for things like childcare so that they can stay in work.”
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