LISTEN: Duncan Spinner and Gavin Price discuss what local people can do to help Ukrainians
Only a few weeks ago the RAF evacuated Duncan Spinner out of Ukraine, now he’s in Highland Perthshire asking the community to help Ukrainian refugees in any way they can.
Originally from Pitlochry, he’s spent seven years working with local people to help deescalate tensions in rebel held territories in Eastern Ukraine with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Now Mr Spinner is teaming up with Gavin Price, owner of the Schiehallion Hotel in Aberfeldy, to connect people who are offering help with Ukrainian’s in need of help.
He explained: “At the moment, I’m coordinating a network of people inside and outside Ukraine. So, from high risk extraction teams who are in the centre of the fighting who will go in and lift people from the front line.
“And one of these teams is led by a guy formally from the black watch, so also from this area. And he takes them to a place of middle safety. He’s got paramedics and intensive care nurses for support.
“He then moves them, moves them on to me where I’ve got a coordinating network of apartments in Lviv working with a young American woman who stayed because her boyfriend can’t leave. And a young German woman who had just opened a restaurant five weeks ago.
“And so, we are coordinating apartments and support. I then have a network of transport to get from Lviv to the border. And then once across the border, we’ve got people to pick them up and take them elsewhere.”
Over his time in Ukraine, Mr Spinner met many local people and built close relationships with his colleagues.
Duncan Spinner: “I’ve spent almost seven years in Ukraine. For the first four and a half years of that period I was the head of operations for the organization in Eastern Ukraine in the territories that were occupied by Russian supported forces. And our job was to try to reduce tension and facilitate dialogue.
“I was based in rebel held territory and managed the operations of a team of 330 people, including about 60 local staff there.”
Now he wants to use his networks to help get people out of Ukraine and to safety. He’s hoping people in Highland Perthshire can offer the light at the other end of the tunnel.
Mr Price is calling on the Home Office, the department responsible for immigration, to open the United Kingdom up for refugees. He’s had the support of local politicians, the community and businesses.
In helping to offer a second life in Highland Perthshire for Ukrainian’s escaping the war, he’s offering accommodation for two refugees and job opportunities for more. Other businesses are also making the same offer.
This is the support Mr Spinner is looking for, he explained: “People need to know that there is a safe refuge. People need to know that they’re going to be welcomed. People need to know that it’s going to be easy and they need to be brought into a place of final safe refuge.
“Where they can be given a hug and supported, not dominated, not to be looked down on at all, because these are intelligent, capable people who are looking for a second home and a second life.”
Helping to coordinate support for Ukrainian’s locally, Mr Price is keeping record of all the offers made by local people and businesses for when the UK Government is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees into the country.
Anyone looking to help can contact him to offer their help, Mr Price added: “In the first instance, they can contact us at the Schiehallion Hotel on email@example.com.
“I’d like to say we’re working daily on updating what accommodations going to be available, what work is going be available and people are offering different of ways support, whether it’s simple as picking people up from airports.”