Steven Carr, Chairman of the charity Dnipro Kids, made the headlines when he led an evacuation of a group of orphanage families from Dnipro in Ukraine in the earliest days of the War. He recently returned from visiting the Ukrainian city, meeting local officials and politicians there.
When our story first hit the news in March 2022, the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s Russia was in full flow. In amongst the horrors of this war the tiny Dnipro Kids charity, started by supporters of Hibernian Football Club in 2005, was evacuating 50 orphanage children to Scotland. This unfolding story captured the hearts of the people in this country and beyond, as they followed their journey out of Ukraine, through Poland and eventually to Scotland as the first group of displaced Ukrainians to enter the UK.
Over 25,000 Ukrainians, most of them women and children, have now taken routes to Scotland – rightly praised for the part it has played. The Super Sponsor Scheme helped cut through red tape around visa requirements, allowing Ukrainians to find safe sanctuary quicker. They were welcomed and have been met with kindness and support. For those displaced Ukrainians within the UK, there continues to be uncertainty around their visas and their ability to remain in the UK beyond 2024. We still await confirmation from the UK Government around visa extensions, which people need to plan their lives, and on top of that the Home Office has introduced changes making it harder for Ukrainians to seek safe sanctuary here. Previously a relatively straightforward online process allowed Ukrainians the ability to enter the UK. Unfortunately, only applications through approved biometric centres outwith the UK will now be considered. Sadly, we are seeing this change result in delays, long journeys to approved centres, and all with no firm timelines and no guarantee of success.
It has been estimated that over 12 million Ukrainians have been displaced by war, with an estimated 8 million seeking sanctuary outside Ukraine. Sadly more will follow. There is a real worry that the western support for Ukraine might start to wane in the face of events elsewhere, and with the prospect of renewed Russian advances becoming a greater reality in the coming months Ukraine may once again find many of its citizens displaced from their homes.
When Dnipro Kids started supporting orphanage children back in 2005 the country had many large orphanages, often upwards of 100 children. Thankfully the state started replacing these with the “family type” orphanages that we support today. It is sad that it has become necessary to reopen large orphanages once again, such is the need to provide accommodation for the thousands of orphaned children this war has created!
We can all help. Please continue to support the charities helping Ukrainians. If you can, then please contact your local MP/MSP and encourage them to continue the support for our Ukrainian friends in their daily struggle. And if they need to escape this horrendous war in Ukraine, lets continue to welcome them.