Ukraine Resettlement: Stakeholder Reference Group minutes – October 2023

Minutes from the meeting of Ukraine Resettlement Stakeholder Reference Group on 04 October 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Councillor Maureen Chalmers, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing (co-Chair)
  • Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Refugee Council (co-Chair)
  • Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees (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
  • Anna Kulish, Chair of Housing Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Oleksandra Novatska, Chair of Language and Culture Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Oleksandr Chernykh, Chair of Employment Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Anna Kitzberg, Communications Officer, Help Ukraine Scotland
  • Karen Campbell, Children's Service Manager, Barnardo's Scotland
  • Simon Tyas, Chair of Management Team, ScotHosts
  • 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, co-Chair, AUGB Dundee
  • Fiona Bennet, Assistant Director, Children’s Services, Barnardo’s Scotland
  • Catherine Brown, Head of Strategic Policy and Engagement, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Craig Robertson, Head of Community Learning & Development Unit, (SG)


  • John Hawryluk, Ukraine Project Coordinator, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations’ Council (EVOC)
  • Paul Wilson, Volunteer Edinburgh
  • Rob Murray, Director for Scotland, Health and Local Crisis Response, British Red Cross


  • Oleksandra Novatska, Chair of Language and Culture Group, Ukrainian Collective
  • Professor Alison Phipps, Chair of the New Scots Core Group and UNESCO Chair: Refugee Integration


  • Claire McKenna, Strategic Policy Manager, SG
  • Luke McPherson, Strategic Policy Officer, SG


  • Mandy Watts, Ukraine Integration Team Leader, SG
  • Steven Scott, Policy Officer, Community Learning and Development Unit, SG
  • Billy McKenzie, Unit Head, Asylum & Refugee Integration Unit, SG
  • Jane Macfarlane, Ukraine Strategic Policy Officer, SG
  • Paula Cassells, Ukraine Strategic Policy Manager, SG
  • Nadia Abu-Hussain, Ukraine Strategic Policy Team Leader, SG
  • Jo Matthews, Private Office

Items and actions


Cllr Chalmers as Chair welcomed everyone to the third meeting of the Stakeholder Reference Group and thanked them for their attendance. The theme of the meeting was ‘Language and Culture’.

Cllr Chalmers reiterated to members that if they have any individual cases, to raise them with the secretariat and not through this meeting in line with the Terms of Reference for this Group.

Actions from previous meeting

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


  • actions were agreed

Update on housing recommendations

Catherine Brown (CB) thanked the Ukrainian Collective and members of the Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) for the discussion at the SRG meeting on 7 March and gave an update on progress. Scottish Government officials have carried out analysis on each of the 26 recommendations made and consulted with the relevant Warm Scots Welcome working groups to consider how to take them forward as outlined in the SRG Terms of Reference. This involved discussions with SG officials, COSLA and SRC to identify what was already being done and if it was possible to include the Ukrainian Collective’s recommendations in forward work plans. Following completion of the analysis, each recommendation was allocated a progress status. The update paper had been agreed the Warm Scots Welcome Delivery Board.

  • Eight of the 26 recommendations are already completed.
  • Nine of the 26 recommendations are currently in progress and would be taken forward by existing work plans.
  • Nine of the 26 recommendations are considered to be out of scope so have been referred to relevant partners where appropriate.

CB informed the group that feedback received recently will be picked up separately off-line.

Cllr Chalmers advised that any further questions on the recommendations should be fed in through the secretariat.

Warm Scots Future

The Minister gave members a brief update on Warm Scots Future policy paper published on 27 September and highlighted the positive feedback received so far including an initial response from the Perth and Kinross Ukrainian Community Integration Network regarding the particular mention the paper makes to children and young people.

The Minister informed the group that the Paul McLennan, Housing Minister, will be meeting all three branches of the AUGB to ensure we make progress on housing issues.

The Minister thanked the SRG members for reviewing and providing comments on the earlier draft (in June). The paper will help Scottish Government and partners transition from an emergency response to a long-term and holistic approach that supports the integration of displaced people from Ukraine, aligned with the New Scots approach.

The paper identifies five strategic priorities:

  1. A trauma informed, holistic and rights-based approach to long-term integration, in line with the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy
  2. Reduce reliance on welcome accommodation.
  3. Boost long-term, settled housing that leaves a legacy for Scotland.
  4. Pursue clarity on routes to settlement, family reunification and repatriation.
  5. Continued partnership and collaboration, ensuring good governance and recognising the lived experience of displaced people from Ukraine.

Scottish Government will now work closely with partners to deliver against the strategic priorities and ensure displaced people from Ukraine achieve the best outcomes possible as they build their lives in Scotland.

New Scots strategy

Alison Phipps (AP), Chair of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy Core Group, gave members an update on the New Scots Strategy work she has undertaken. The New Scots Strategy Core Group is a partnership between the Scottish Refugee Council, COSLA and the Scottish Government to deliver on the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy. It is currently up for renewal and the University of Glasgow have been leading on a project for the last three years identifying recommendations to ensure the needs of asylum seekers, refugees and those here by forced displacement are met. The strategy is now over ten years old and was one of the world’s first integration strategies. It is held in high regard internationally due its evidence-based research between 2000-2010.

AP stressed it is key that the refresh reflects the very diverse change in circumstances across the world. All the strands of work that have come out of the New Scots Strategy such as housing, employment, education and all the core needs that still need to be met which has been a particular focus for the Scottish Government. We can be really proud of the work we have done so far to help enable a mass evacuation and the steps put in place to help those who have arrived in Scotland.

AP stressed the importance of language and culture and defined why they are so closely entwined, and members welcomed this.

The group praised AP for her dedication to this work emphasising the need to move to a local integrated approach in order to make displaced people feel at ease and feel at home.

ESOL – Education Scotland paper

Cllr Chalmers drew attention to the Education Scotland paper circulated to members ahead of the meeting which provides some information about the ESOL Network that Education Scotland chair. Members seeking further information on the network can contact Education Scotland directly using contact details included in the paper.

Craig Robertson (CR) informed the group that North Lanarkshire ESOL group had picked up an award recently and this was to be celebrated.  He stressed there was still difficulty in getting the appropriate data to determine what we can do further to improve the situation.  CR provided commitment to work with the Ukrainian Collective going forward.

Tanya Balanova (TB) indicated that she had not received the Education Scotland paper ahead of this meeting and requested that it be forwarded on.


  • Secretariat to send Education Scotland paper to Tanya Balanova, Community Coordinator, AUGB Edinburgh

Language and culture presentation and discussion

One presentation was given by Oleksandra Novatska (ON) from the Ukrainian Collective which had identified the following aims and issues.

Language aims:

Short term goals:

  • reaching National 3 level and passing the test to get the possibility of the basic communication and the simplest work
  • to help qualified professionals, whose level is close to the desired one, to reach the language proficiency, so that they can get the proper job and bring maximum benefit to the society

Long term goals:

  • recognise the needs of the language learning for a longer-term focus
  • engage with SG, LA, 3rd sector and ESOL sector to push for more ESOL resources within the Adult Learning Strategy

Key issues experienced by displaced people from Ukraine:

  • language learning hours: a person must complete 1000 hours of study and immerse themselves in the English-speaking environment as much as possible. To move to the next level in the study of the English language, a person needs to complete 100-120 hours of study. The language learning is a personal process which depends on the age, on the ability to learn under stressful conditions, on the ability to learn with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
  • appropriate level of learning is required – a view was expressed that mixed level classes do not work. There is a need to consider barriers of rurality and access to appropriate level classes for each individual person.
  • colleges don’t take into account re-location of displaced people, so they lose their place in the college system
  • intensive English programmes recommended highlighting STEP Ukraine Programme as one of the courses available. STEP means Ukrainians can go from one level to the next in a short space of time. 
  • important to note the importance of culture which has visible and non-visible aspects
  • raised the fact that some people will have trauma and will attend things to avoid being alone – be mindful that Ukrainian people are not accustomed to talking about their mental health.
  • integration complex process – Government and local levels needed
  • language clubs - sometimes in classes everyone is at a different level
  • raised the issues of small towns like Dumfries rather than the main cities where it can be hard to find appropriate courses
  • power of small actions – Ukrainian people want to live in an ideal society – especially with small towns


  • SZ praised the Ukrainian people for their resilience and ‘can do’ attitude and also the effective framework of the Ukrainian Collective given the importance of lived experience in shaping policy
  • SZ highlighted the richness of Ukrainian language and poetry and parallels with Scots language and poetry. He suggested opportunities to celebrate Robert Burns and a Ukrainian poet, similar to celebrations organised by the Afghan community and others
  • ON raised the need to show more of the modern Ukrainian culture that has developed since independence, not one that is not colonised by Russia
  • The group agreed it would be good to create more cultural events
  • AUGB will be holding an event on the 22 October celebrating Ukrainian culture. They urged members to come along and join in the celebrations.
  • AP stressed the importance of language and culture in overcoming trauma, which can be take many years to process with song often the first form of expression
  • ON recommended making more resources available for people arriving in Scotland to learn about Scottish history and culture


  • Craig Robertson (CR) to look into access to college courses if the student moves location
  • Billy McKenzie (BM) - New Scots partners to consider resources available for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons arriving in Scotland to learn about Scottish history and culture

Next steps

A note of the meeting and actions will be circulated to the group and published online.

Any other business

There was not any other business raised by any members for the group.


Cllrs Chalmers thanked everyone for their attendance, noting members’ commitment to the group. The next meeting will take place in November with a suggested theme of visas. The secretariat will be in touch with members to set a date.

List of actions:

  • Secretariat - Recirculate Education Scotland paper to Tanya Balanova, Community Coordinator, AUGB Edinburgh
  • CR to look into what happens if a person attending a college moves location and loses their access to their course
  • BM - New Scots partners to consider resources available for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons arriving in Scotland to learn about Scottish history and culture
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