Highland Council members praised the work of officers and teams working across the organization for their collaborative efforts to support Ukrainian refugees seeking refuge in the Highlands.
The latest statistics confirm that in two hotels in Aviemore there are 201 displaced Ukrainians.
Recognizing the need to maintain this level of support and to prepare financially for any additional arrivals to Highland over the next few months, councilors agreed on a recommendation to submit a letter to the Scottish Government for additional funding to alleviate a budget pressure expected over the year on the board of at least £41,000.
The council previously debated and gave its unequivocal support to the Ukrainian people fleeing the conflict at a meeting held in March.
Humanitarian support; support for refugees and support for staff, young people and the general public and in particular families and friends involved in the crisis were also considered at the time.
As of September 5, more than 9,000 Ukrainians were living in a sanctuary in Scotland, and a total of 21,000 visas had been issued, allowing Ukrainian Displaced Persons (UDPs) to live, work and apply for social assistance.
The program is made up of three distinct components:
Homes for Ukraine Scheme – the original scheme launched by the UK government in March, encouraging private landlords to provide accommodation to displaced clients. Since the start of the Homes for Ukraine program, 86 properties across Highland have registered under the HFU program which have matched 205 guests.
Scottish Super Sponsorship Scheme – the Scottish Government announced this scheme on March 18. It allows clients to register with the Scottish Government as a sponsor prior to visa application and travel, rather than requiring an arrangement to already be in place with a host family. The total number of expressions of interest received from the Scottish Government from hosts offering their properties under this scheme was very high across all regions of the Highlands, with 672 expressions of interest.
Emergency hotel accommodation – Emergency hotels are subject to contractual arrangements directly between the government and hotel owners. Due to the increase in arrivals to Scotland, the Scottish Government has now established numerous hotel placements across Scotland. In Highland, the situation on September 8 is as follows:
Inverness (3 hotels) – 181 customers
Strathpeffer (1 hotel) – 39 guests
Aviemore (2 hotels) – 201 guests
Council facilitator Bill Lobban said, “We recognize the difficult hurdles and timelines that have been involved in this particular resettlement program and the added role of Highland’s unique geography.
“Fortunately, within the organization we have a strong track record in supporting refugees and have well-established structures that we have been able to build on to support refugees and migrants.
“Following today’s agreement, we will now be writing to Scottish Government ministers seeking confirmation of future funding arrangements to ensure we have resources allocated to continue this vital line of support. This will also include seeking government confirmation for the holistic, outcome-focused and flexible use of the schemes to cover the circumstances set out above to ensure family needs are met.
Housing President Glynis Sinclair added: “Many of those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine have suffered a lot of emotional trauma and the role of the council in providing assistance and access to education, healthcare and Welfare has – and continues to – play a key role in helping these people begin the journey to rebuild their lives here in Highland.