Ukraine Resettlement: Stakeholder Reference Group minutes – March 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 12 March 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) (co-Chair)
  • Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees (co-Chair)
  • Councillor Maureen Chalmers, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing (co-Chair)
  • Andrii Nadych, Community Development Officer, Scottish Refugee Council (SRC)
  • Elodie Mignard, Senior Partnership Manager, SRC
  • David Beauchamp, Policy Officer (Ukraine), Migration, Population and Diversity Team, COSLA
  • Oleksandra Novatska, Chair of Language and Culture Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Oleksandr Chernykh, Chair of Employment Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Olha Maksymiak, Communications Officer, Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB) Glasgow
  • Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk, Branch Chair, AUGB Edinburgh
  • Tanya Balanova, Community Coordinator, AUGB Edinburgh
  • Hannah Shepheard, Assistant Service Manager, Aberlour (Ukraine Children and Host Family Service)
  • Maria Jemicz, Acting -Chair, AUGB Dundee
  • Fiona Bennet, Assistant Director, Children’s Services, Barnardo’s Scotland
  • Catherine Brown, Head of Ukraine Strategic Policy and Engagement, Scottish Government (SG)


  • Anna Kulish, Ukraine Collective
  • Rob Murray, Director for Scotland, Health and Local Crisis Response,  British Red Cross
  • John Hawryluk , Ukraine Project Co-ordinator, EVOC
  • Paul Wilson, Chief Executive, Volunteer Edinburgh


  • Oleksandra Novatska, Chair of the Language and Culture group, Ukraine Collective
  • Olya Maksymiak, representative of the Housing Group, Ukraine Collective


  • Claire McKenna, Ukraine Policy Manager, Scottish Government
  • Luke McPherson, Ukraine Policy Officer, Scottish Government


  • Jennifer Blair, Barrister, Ukraine Advice Scotland Project

Observers from the Scottish Government

  • Will Tyler-Greig, Deputy Director, Ukraine Directorate
  • Mandy Watts, Team leader, Ukraine Integration
  • Billy McKenzie, Unit Head, Asylum and Refugee Integration
  • Dominque Taylor, Ukraine Policy Manager
  • Keith Fernie, Policy Manager, Lifelong Learning and Skills Directorate
  • Clare Barnett, Service Design Lead

Items and actions


Sabir Zazai (SZ), as Chair, welcomed everyone to the fifth meeting of the Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) and thanked them for their attendance. The group was asked to note:

  • Anna Kitzberg, previously of Help Ukraine Scotland (HUS), has now moved to a new role within Edinburgh Spiders and therefore will no longer be a member of the SRG. The Secretariat have thanked Anna for her contributions to the SRG meetings over the last year
  • a reminder about raising individual issues through the correct channels and if unsure, to contact the Secretariat for further advice

Actions from previous meeting

The Secretariat advised all actions from the previous meeting are complete. No issued were raised.

Visa update

Catherine Brown, Head of Ukraine Strategic Policy and Engagement, SG provided a short update that

SRG co-chairs of wrote to the UK Government following the November meeting and copies of that letter and reply had been circulated to the group.

The UK Government announced changes to Ukraine visa schemes on the 19 February. This includes an extension scheme which allows an eighteen month extension to current visa holders. The application process for an extension will open three months before current visas are due to expire. Home Office also announced immediate changes to existing visa schemes about the eligibility criteria to become a sponsor and closure of the family scheme. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice wrote again to the UK Government on 11 March setting out the position of the Scottish Government. This includes concerns that an eighteen month extension and three month application window are not long enough. The Scottish Government has also asked for clarification on the eligibility criteria changes for the Super Sponsor Scheme along with assurances on funding arrangements following the recent UK budget announcement. 

SZ mentioned that Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) has produced guidance on the impact of these changes, and people can get in touch with SRC through their helpline.

Hannah Beaton-Hawryluk (HBH), AUGB Edinburgh, informed the group there will be an information session on 28 March with Home Office regarding visas. HBH advised for those who wish to attend to get in touch with AUGB Edinburgh.

Reflections from Co-chairs

SZ gave his personal reflections of the group’s work over the past year. He emphasised the real value of involving people with lived experience to ensure SRC’s response better meets the needs of people. He valued the platform the partnership had created including people from different backgrounds and organisations across Scotland. 

Ms Roddick explained that she finds this group incredibly helpful as she is able to get instant feedback on what Scottish Government priorities should focus on and ensure that Scottish Government messages are kept relevant.  She emphasised that this constant source and honest feedback has been invaluable to the Scottish Government.

Cllr Chalmers echoed the sentiments of both SZ and the Minister explaining that it has been incredibly valuable to have a different theme for each meeting which has helped keep discussions focussed and relevant. The richness of the information and input from the group helps to progress things in the best way to support the needs of displaced Ukrainians. One example is of the group helping with writing to the Home Office and setting out clearly the SRG’s concerns and urgent clarity needed on the visa position.

Feedback from SRG members on reflections paper

It was noted that a reflections paper was circulated to members in advance of the meeting, no further questions were raised.

Ukraine Collective Presentation – “Reflection after 1 Year”

Oleksandra Novatska, Chair of the Language and Culture group and Olya Maksymiak, representative of the Housing group. 

Key points and recommendations


  • the Ukrainian Collective is committed to leveraging its lived experiences, networks, and expertise to facilitate the dialogue between the Ukrainian community and resettlement partners (e.g. Scottish Government, COSLA, local authorities, third sector organisations) to support a seamless transition towards sustainable housing solutions
  • it recognises the crucial role played by housing associations and private landlords, fostering greater engagement presents a valuable opportunity to enhance partnerships in future and expand availability of safe and affordable housing
  • the Ukrainian Collective stands ready to facilitate constructive dialogue and collaboration between private landlords and displaced individuals. This support includes assisting in the development of resources and support networks to address any concerns landlords may have regarding potential challenges in renting to displaced individuals


  • in the 'Warm Scots Future' paper, the Scottish Government acknowledges the significance of employment as a key pillar for the long-term integration of displaced people from Ukraine, aligning with its first strategic priority to support a holistic, trauma-informed, and rights-based approach to long-term integration. Statistical data and observations demonstrate the importance of persisting in efforts to identify effective approaches to address the barriers to employment for Ukrainians
  • the Ukrainian Collective Employment group aims to explore solutions to unlock the potential of the Ukrainian community in the Scottish labour market. Exploring avenues for heightened engagement, such as information campaigns and collaborative events could offer promising opportunities to strengthen ties between Scottish employers and the Ukrainian community
  • the untapped entrepreneurial potential within the Ukrainian community is an  opportunity to be noted. With the support of the network and expertise provided by the Ukrainian Collective, existing barriers, such as the lack of information on starting a business could be addressed more effectively. Additionally, establishing platforms for displaced individuals to share their experiences and best practices could serve as invaluable resources for fostering entrepreneurship and resilience within the community


  • it is important to note that despite  obstacles, the majority of Ukrainians have made  great progress in learning the language, using various opportunities, such as online learning with STEP Ukraine program and various language learning applications on gadgets


  • the Ukrainian Collective thinks that a two-way study is needed of what Ukrainians and Scots face when communicating what local people (who have not communicated with Ukrainians directly) think about them. This will help identify what the fears and problems are and why employers are not ready to hire and will help to find ways to solve the problem
  • opportunities to engage in cultural exchange could help integration of Ukrainians but also help Ukrainians to understand their own professional development prospects in Scotland as well as consider how they can best contribute to society

Action – Secretariat to review and consider how best to take forward these recommendations from the Ukrainian Collective

Interactive discussion

The interactive session was facilitated using Slido. Members contributed to Slido using questions received in advance of the meeting: 

  • what helped us move forward: e.g. diversity of the group, relationships, the group dynamic, process?
  • the group highlighted the importance of collaboration, working together, diversity of the group and listening to lived experience
  • what successes do we have/have we contributed towards: e.g. How those recommendations have helped shape new policies – what difference are they making to displaced Ukrainian people living here). Where did we make progress? Opportunities that working together has provided
  • new connections flowing from the group were highlighted as a success, as well as expertise and evidence from lived experience contributing to the Warm Scots Future policy position paper and forthcoming New Scots strategy
  • what held us back: e.g.  Where there were challenges. What was frustrating? Out of those, which are within our control
  • lack of clarity on visas, a lack of housing, shortcomings in communication and different approaches across local authorities were highlighted by the group
  • what are the opportunity areas for the future, eg what learning can be used to shape the future of the SRG 
  • the group highlighted that the New Scots Strategy, rights to be safe and action plans will provide opportunity areas for the group to be involved in and take forward in the future

Any other business, next meeting and close 

  • the Secretariat will be in touch with a date for the next meeting
  • the note of this meeting will be published online
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