LISTEN: Gavin Price and Mike Ruiter explain how Highland Perthshire is doing its part to help Ukrainian people
Local families across Highland Perthshire are welcoming in refugees from Ukraine by offering them a life away from the war in their home country.
They’re being offered housing, jobs and a chance to escape the war which is not refraining from sparing innocent lives.
Through the Schiehallion Hotel, Highland Perthshire welcomes Ukraine is helping to sponsor visas and offering financial support to Ukrainians escaping the conflict.
Gavin Price, who has been helping organise the effort, said: “It’s unimaginable, the things that they’re going through and from our perspective, we just want people here.
“Now, it’s a tremendous boost to finally see families arriving yesterday and a few more visas getting approved. So, there’ll be more imminently coming early next week, hopefully.”
This is offering Ukrainian people the chance to temporarily find a new life outside of the war, and for Mike Ruiter this has a deep personal connection.
His own family were evacuated to Britain during World War 2 and now he’s taking the opportunity to extend the same offer to another family by inviting a Ukrainian family into his home.
He explained: “I’m Dutch’s and there’s a bit of a Dutch link here. In the Netherlands in the Second World War, lots of children had to be moved away from their parents to safety.
“So, my grandparents were both moved to safety during the second world war and growing up in Netherlands they always talked about like how important that was and how they found safety in the UK. And if it wasn’t for that, I might not be here.
“So, for me, I wouldn’t have been here, eventually, if my grandparents hadn’t benefited from the kindness of the British people during the Second World War. And I guess going forward, that was the reasons for me to get involved in the first place by offering a home.”
SSE Renewables have also offered their support in helping offer Ukrainian refugees into Highland Perthshire by providing a grant of £27,000 to the cause.
That’s allowing Highland Perthshire Welcomes Ukrainians the chance to buy provisions, welcome packs and to offer support to Ukrainians in the country.
Mr Price added: “So with the funding, we’re organizing flights, we’re organizing Airbnb accommodation over there for them, if they need that temporarily.
“We’ve concentrated around Aberfeldy and Grandtully and Kenmore to begin with families. And we now rolling things out to Pitlochry in the next, next few days for the next matches.”
However, for Mr Price, the process is not fast enough. He would like to see more visas being processed more quickly to help families in desperate need.
He explained: “We probably don’t want to get too political about things, but we’ve had conversations with local MPs.
“Pete Wishart has been excellent with us, he’s been up to meet us he’s chased up what he can for information about us from the Home Office. And we had a meeting with Murdo Fraser yesterday, he’s doing likewise.
“But in all brutality, you have to say that, and I don’t think it’s I’m hiding anything here, the processing of the visas from the Home Office has been far too slow.
“When people need it the most I think as a country, we have a duty to fast track things much more than what we’ve been doing.”
Although, the Home Office explains that they are taking their time processing visas for the safety of the British public.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Security and identity checks are a fundamental part of our visa process in order to keep people in this country safe, and this is consistent with our approach to the evacuation of Afghanistan.
“That is vital both to keep British citizens safe, but also to ensure that we are helping those in genuine need – as the Minister set out, we are already seeing people presenting false documents claiming to be Ukrainians.”
While it is a big commitment to take in a family into a home, Mr Ruiter says that there are still other ways local people can support the cause. That ranges from donating essentials, money or taking in a family.
He says they’re there to help local people make the right decision for them in how they want to help people in Ukraine.
He said: “So, if you are thinking about taking your family in maybe get in touch with us because we can really help work out the practicalities to think things through.
“If it’s right for you, I would say to anybody don’t feel any pressure because it’s definitely not a life commitment.
“And because there are so many other ways people can get involved. One of the biggest things that we really need is financial help.”
More information can be found on: https://www.facebook.com/schiehallionhotel