LISTEN: Gavin Price explains how local businesses can help people in need in Ukraine – Photo Credit: Just Click’s With A Camera
Businesses in Highland Perthshire are offering places for Ukrainian’s, escaping Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, to live and work in the community.
Gavin Price, owner of the Schiehallion Hotel and two other hospitality businesses in Aberfeldy, is offering accommodation for two Ukrainian’s avoiding the conflict in their home country.
He’s prepared to pay for their flights into the UK, cover the costs of visas and is imploring the government to make this process easier. He is also offering to employ more Ukrainian’s who come into the UK and other businesses in Highland Perthshire are also extending similar opportunities.
Mr Price explained: “We’ve got accommodation that we could give to two people, but we would take more in terms of working.
“So, I’ve offered to pay fights, pay for any visas and provide accommodation and work when they’re ready to start working depending on individual circumstances. But to certainly to house people at the start and there’s an offer of work there.”
Mr Price took to Twitter to extend his offer and since then he’s only received support from the local community and Highland Perthshire’s representatives.
Mr Price added: “Since, we’ve been contacted by – not just hospitality businesses in and around Aberfeldy – other business as well, that – like ourselves – would like to do what they can. Whether it’s two bedrooms or four.
“I was going to say the hospitality industry is in crisis, but it’s not in crisis, the Ukrainian nationals are in crisis at the moment.
“But there’s definitely a problem with hospitality in Highland Perthshire for lack of a work of workforce, and it’s a no brainer that if we can provide work for – and be able to get Ukrainians first and foremost to safety and provide that network for them – then it is really is a win-win situation.”
However – as of Monday (March 7) – the UK government allowed 50 Ukrainian refugees into the country, after 5,535 people applied for a new scheme which ‘allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.’
Mr Price explained that under the current system, it takes a long time for prospective Ukrainians to apply and work for him because of visa restrictions.
He said: “It would take three months to register the business and to go through all the costs and paperwork to make that happen.
“Now, that’s obviously not an appropriate timeframe at the moment, so we’re hoping there’s, there’s pressure being put on the home office just now.”
Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, is joining Mr Price, and the other businesses offering their support for Ukrainian’s, in helping to provide a chance for people escaping conflict.
Mr Wishart said: “I raised the Schiehallion Hotel’s generous visa sponsorship offer to parliament, and urged the government to get rid of the unnecessary red tape for Ukrainians wishing to enter the UK as a result of Russia’s invasion.
“The long and complex application process is ridiculous in this time of crisis, particularly when there are people across the country offering immediate places to live and work.
“While I welcome the Leader of the House’s recognition of Mr Price’s generosity, what we need now is the introduction of a system that will allow for his offer to be fulfilled simply and swiftly.”
The Home Office, the department responsible for immigration into the UK, is now offering the Ukraine Family Scheme which allows Ukrainian’s, with family members in the UK, into the country.
In a visit to the Ukrainian embassy in London this week, the home sectary, Priti Patel said: “This is a really important scheme. We want to make sure that we can help everyone that has links to the UK. While at the same time supporting people in the region.
“My message to the Ukrainian community here in the UK is actually one of enormous warmth and gratitude for everything that they are doing at this really shattering time.
The home sectary added: “Not only do we stand with them, but we are here to be with them, and ensure we can support them in bringing their family members to the United Kingdom.”
More information on the Ukraine Family Scheme can be found on: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-ukraine-family-scheme-visa
Anyone looking to contact the Schiehallion Hotel can do so on: https://www.schiehallionhotel.co.uk/contact