Anne Dobbing, who was elected to the Pax Christi Scotland Executive Committee at our AGM in November, is concerned for the welfare of refugees in Scotland who have fled war and violence. She hopes we can make Christmas special for them by sending a gift voucher.
Many of us have been deeply moved and troubled by the suffering of Ukrainian people, who have been forced to leave their homes and their country as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Families have been separated; and family members and friends have been killed through the months of fighting and relentless attacks on civilian areas.
The Scottish government has coordinated host family schemes in Scotland, but has also chartered two cruise ships berthed in Scottish waters: the MV Victoria at Leith, Edinburgh, carrying 1,275 Ukrainians and the MS Ambition, on the River Clyde at King George V docks at Glasgow which holds up to 1,750 people.
Ukrainians who are currently living on board these ships have praised their accommodation, with appreciation of the planning that has ensured that while on board children can continue their education and leisure pursuits; while adult refugees have access to Ukrainian crew members, Ukrainian food and signage written with Cyrillic script.
Even so, the disruption and anxiety caused by the war in Ukraine must have taken a huge toll on families who have been forced to leave their homes; and often to leave close family members behind in areas where bitter fighting continues.
Alistair Dutton, the chief executive of SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, has suggested that these Ukrainian families who are currently staying on the two ships might appreciate receiving a Christmas gift from the people of Scotland. We can post a parcel, labelled with the gender and approximate age of the receiver of the gift, or send a gift voucher for someone to choose a gift to buy for themselves.
Another charity that is working tirelessly and effectively with refugees from many countries is Refuweegee, a community led charity, based in Glasgow. They care for and support people from many different countries arriving in Scotland; and are delighted to receive gift vouchers for their clients, which they are happy to pass on to refugees.
All refugees, wherever they have come from, exist (barely) on a very meagre financial allowance of £40.85 a week to cover all living expenses. Despite the many skills and talents they bring with them, they are not allowed to work according to UK law.
To receive the gift of a shop voucher and to be able to choose something to buy for themselves could help refugees feel worthwhile and cared about. It’s such a simple and effective way of helping a person who has suffered so much to feel worthwhile again.
5th Floor, 249 W George St, Glasgow G2 4QE
Tel 0141 401 0756
Happy Christmas to you all,
Anne Dobbing, Pax Christi Scotland executive committee member, 8th December 2022