In response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the UK Government established three visa schemes for displaced Ukrainians:
- A Family Scheme for those with family members in the UK.
- An Extension Scheme for those who held a valid UK visa on or after 1 January 2022.
- A Sponsorship Scheme through which displaced Ukrainians are sponsored by hosts that offer them accommodation for at least six months. The Scottish Government acted as a supersponsor for the scheme but applications have been paused since 13 July 2022.
Details of the schemes and the application processes are provided in a Scottish Parliament Information Centre briefing.
The Scottish Government published specific guidance for local authorities in April 2022 (last updated June 2023) outlining the role of local councils in supporting Ukrainian guests who arrive under both the Scottish Super Sponsor Scheme and who match privately into Scotland through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. Read the guidance here.
The Scottish Government also has guidance (last updated August 2023) for displaced people from Ukraine, including on visa applications, immigration advice and flight options. This guidance is available in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish. Read the guidance here.
Safeguarding Arrangements and Trauma Support
Welcome hubs have been set up for refugees arriving from Ukraine. These hubs are situated in Edinburgh, Paisley, Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway and will provide hot meals, translation services and trauma support. The Welcome Hubs are multi-agency and local authority led.
In June 2022, the UK Government confirmed that unaccompanied children and minors under 18 who have applied through the Homes for Ukraine scheme are allowed to come to the UK.
The Scottish Government has published guidance (last updated December 2022) for all practitioners involved in safeguarding of children and adults who are arriving in Scotland from Ukraine to identify and respond to risk and need. Read the guidance here. A welcome checklist and a screening form for unaccompanied children have also been produced and both forms are available on the Scottish Government website.
Access to Benefits
The Scottish Government has confirmed that Ukrainians arriving in Scotland from either of the two visa schemes will be able to access NHS services at no charge on the same basis as people living in Scotland. Additionally, they will also meet residency conditions for Scottish social security benefits, meaning that they will have immediate access to benefits such as Scottish Child Payment and Child Disability Payment.
The UK Government has confirmed that Ukrainians arriving in Scotland from either of the two visa schemes will have immediate access to welfare support, including:
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
- Child Disability Living Allowance
- Carers Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseekers Allowance
In April 2022, our National Director, Alison Bavidge, wrote to the Scottish Government seeking clarification on safeguarding arrangements being put in place for when Ukrainian guests arrive in Scotland and to highlight the need for specific support and resources to be made available for social workers to help the profession to effectively respond to this challenge.
We received a response from the Minister with Special Responsibility for Refugees from Ukraine providing an assurance that support would be made available for social workers to help meet expected increases in demand on services. Read the response here.
Support for social workers is available through SASW's Professional Support Service. This is a free and confidential support service for all social workers in Scotland. The service can provide wellbeing support and an essential space for reflection and discussion for anyone affected by the situation in Ukraine.
Useful Resources & Information
Just Right Scotland
Just Right Scotland has launched a Ukraine Advice Scotland project to provide free, confidential legal advice and information to Ukrainians on legal routes for seeking safety in Scotland.
NHS National Services Scotland’s National Contact Centre has launched a helpline to provide support for people fleeing Ukraine who are coming to Scotland. Lines are open seven days a week, 12 hours a day. The number is 01698 794410
UNICEF has produced guidance for protecting displaced and refugee children in and outside of Ukraine. It includes information on how authorities and aid workers can help keep children displaced by the war in Ukraine safe from trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
CELCIS has developed a resource to help people in Scotland working with and supporting children and families in a professional, voluntary or personal capacity. “The Supporting Child Refugees and their Families” hub focuses on child protection and safeguarding, supporting mental and physical wellbeing including trauma, and the needs of children who require care. Information, resources, organisations, guidance and the international frameworks to understand the rights of children and what needs to be considered when supporting children in care and children who have been displaced from the war, have been separated from their families and may have arrived in the UK on their own,
Scottish Refugee Council
The Scottish Refugee Council has a homepage dedicated to providing information on the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine and ways that people in Scotland can help.
The Scottish Refugee Council is holding free online information sessions for people affected by the conflict in Ukraine who have recently arrived in Scotland through the Ukraine Family Scheme and for relatives who are about to welcome people from Ukraine. “The Ukraine Family Scheme: Your Rights” sessions are run by experienced advisers and will give people an introduction to their rights and information on how to access essential services such as housing and health.
The Care Inspectorate
The Care Inspectorate has issued guidance on contingency arrangements being put in place to respond to the expected increase in emergency foster care placements due to the Ukraine crisis.
International Federation of Social Workers
The IFSW has put a call out for funds to support volunteer social work efforts in in the main refugee countries (where there may be fewer state funded social work services able to respond to need).