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Refugee action plan kickstarted

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Refugee action plan kickstarted

AN action plan to give shelter to refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine is being progressed by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

At the recent full council meeting, the local authority formally agreed to participate in the Ukrainian Resettlement Scheme being worked on together by the UK and Scottish Governments.

It was explained that refugees could enter Dumfries and Galloway through four different ways: the UK government family visa scheme, the individual and community sponsorship scheme Homes For Ukraine, the Scottish Government’s super sponsor scheme, or unannounced arrivals – which the government will manage through ‘welcome hubs’.
While these various options are open, and many families throughout the region have offered to acts as hosts, council officers admitted they have no clue how many Ukrainian refugees are expected.
Replying to a question on if more could be done to bring empty council properties into use for incoming refugees, Liz Manson, the council’s community planning and engagement officer, replied: “At the moment we are looking at a wide range of opportunities, but it depends very much on the numbers that we’re expected to resettle on a long-term basis.
“Also, there is funding available from the Scottish Government to bring into use some properties that have perhaps not been up to an adequate standard.”

And addressing if the council’s already-overstretched departments will be able to cope with the extra workload, Kirsty Peden, community engagement manager, said that £325,000 of funding from the Scottish Government will give the council more resource for the resettlement of refugees.
She said: “We are confident that additional staff resources for checks etc would come from the monies being made available for that purpose.
“With regards to communication, the minute we have information then members will of course have access to that – and then of course the public.
“We are handling a large number of enquiries, both from elected members, MPs, MSPs and hosts that are seeking to be participants in both schemes.
“It’s early days. It’s very fast-paced and the moment we have concrete and clarified information from government we’ll make sure that’s accessible on our website and circulated.”

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