Meet the unbelievable volunteers ensuring Ukrainians arriving at Glasgow airport obtain a heat welcome.
Russia’s conflict towards Ukraine has pressured hundreds of thousands of individuals from their houses. Virtually 23,000 males, ladies and kids have arrived in Scotland looking for security.
At Glasgow airport, a particular group of devoted volunteers are available to greet folks fleeing the conflict towards Ukraine. They’re a pleasant face, providing reassurance and a heat Scottish welcome to individuals who usually arrive exhausted and traumatised.
With the help of our meet and greet volunteers, we’ve welcomed greater than 1,200 folks displaced from Ukraine since March 2022. Our volunteers present folks with important data as quickly as they arrive in Scotland and accompany them to the close by hub run by Renfrewshire Council Resettlement Staff.
We caught up with a few of our volunteers to seek out out extra.
“I undoubtedly take into consideration folks after I’ve helped them. I’ll mirror on what occurred. You’ll be able to’t assist however examine it to your individual scenario.
“Generally you’ll have a correct chat once you’re ready for the resettlement staff. They’ll present you photos of the wreckage that was their household house on their cellphone. It’s eye-opening. You see it on the information however when it’s on a one-to-one private foundation it’s a lot extra actual.
“The information at all times focuses on the conflict itself. There’s a whole lot of people who’re simply regular individuals who wish to stay a standard life. They wish to get a job, settle, carry up their households. The media focuses on trauma and warfare and never the on a regular basis hopes and aspirations of the folks affected.”
“The perfect factor about being a volunteer is the sensation that you’re helpful right here. I understand how it feels once you come to an odd nation for the primary time. You don’t know what tomorrow might be or the place you’ll keep. It’s actually scary.
“I got here to Scotland from Ukraine in July. After I arrived. I used to be so scared. I had examine what to do however I didn’t understand how it could be. It’s actually nice when there’s somebody you may ask. Much more once they can converse to you in your individual language.
“I noticed that Scottish Refugee Council had been on the lookout for volunteers at Glasgow airport and I believed it could be an ideal expertise for me. On the interview I noticed the quantity of people that needed to be a volunteer for this undertaking and I used to be like ‘wow’. All these people who find themselves doing this for nothing, simply to welcome folks right here in Scotland.”
“For me it’s actually nice that I’ve a chance to speak with different volunteers whereas I’ve a shift. I actually recognize these moments and am actually glad that I’ve a whole lot of new associates now.
“Information protection of the conflict in Ukraine was devastating and I needed to do greater than really feel sympathy for these affected. Getting concerned with Scottish Refugee Council to help Ukrainians arriving into Scotland appeared a sensible approach to assist.
“The perfect factor about volunteering is being able to supply a heat welcome to people who find themselves feeling dismayed, displaced and anxious about what’s going to occur to them. Though our position in the entire course of is restricted, that preliminary welcome could make a distinction for folks on a really tough journey.
“Attempting to grasp (and clarify) the restricted coordination between councils (and different businesses) may be difficult. Households and associates attempting to reunite may be blocked by ‘the method’ which appears unnecessarily merciless. The inner buildings don’t appear to have the ability to provide the flexibleness required to make selections primarily based on the human expertise. I perceive it’s a big operation and processes are required by the authorities to handle the numbers concerned however typically it feels extra course of pushed than folks centric.”
“I had no area to host anybody however I nonetheless needed to assist. This was one thing I may truly do. It’s an enormous factor, being the primary face they’ve handled once they get right here. They usually bear in mind you.
“There was as soon as a woman with a child who arrived with no baggage. Usually simply travelling with a child requires all types of luggage. They actually had nothing with them.
“Having Olga, a Russian speaker, [as a fellow volunteer] was so useful. You do get people who find themselves traumatised, who’re very upset, having a Russian speaker actually helped.
“Ukrainian is a tough language to be taught. I’ve been utilizing the SayHi app. We discovered about it from the refugees. It’s approach higher than Google Translate. We at all times suggest it to the hosts.
“We do get to know the hosts. They’ve instructed me some beautiful issues about communities who’ve pulled collectively to help any person. A few of these tales are actually fascinating.
“We used to play a recreation the place we tried to identify hosts ready on the airport. Generally their children had made welcome indicators for the refugees, typically they’d tried to put in writing it in Ukrainian.
“When folks arrive, you see their faces and they’re so scared and traumatised. You see children with just one backpack and also you realise they left every thing behind. Their previous life, their future plans; every thing was worn out in a single night time. Then when somebody is there to greet them, once they hear your voice and so they hear that you simply converse their language you may see their smile.
“I’ve Ukrainian background and have a whole lot of household there. When the conflict occurred, I felt very responsible that I’m right here secure and comfy in Scotland. I needed to seek out ways in which I may assist. Then I noticed the enchantment for meet and greet volunteers and I believed that was a very good possibility. I’ve the language expertise and cultural information and thought I may be helpful. I can choose shifts within the night and weekends so I can match it round my job.
“Whenever you arrive in your shift, you get to see how individuals are settling in. You retain assembly all these faces that you simply first met once they arrived on the airport three months in the past and so they begin to inform you how they’re getting on. They’ve began at school. They’ve bought a job. It’s wonderful to see their development.”
“I began volunteering out of a way of rage and frustration at what was occurring and an urge to do one thing to assist. What we do is easy however actually precious. It’s rewarding. It’s totally different seeing it first-hand: it’s not the identical as what you see on the information.
“Generally now I see among the folks I welcomed on the resort months on and I ponder why they’re nonetheless there and the way they really feel about it.
“The sight that at all times stays with me is the women who include children – all of them have one small suitcase every and so they have to start out a brand new life with that. I discover that fascinating. I left Serbia with one small suitcase 30 years in the past.”
“I bear in mind many individuals who arrived. It’s laborious to single anybody out, all of them have their very own unhappy tales. And I hope that I used to be in a position to guarantee that their first go to wasn’t so laborious emotionally.
“I began volunteering with Scottish Refugee Council in August. The primary factor I do is volunteer on the Welcome Desk on the airport. It is a little bit of a brand new position for me. I’ve at all times helped pets who had been deserted. Now I simply needed to assist people who find themselves coming to a different nation for the primary time, and lots of of them don’t know the language.
“It’s not like they’re going to journey [for a holiday]. There may be the conflict in our nation and there’s nothing left however chaos.
“I’m completely happy to work with everybody on the Scottish Refugee Council. They’re probably the most fantastic folks.”