Ukrainians find refuge at SRUC

Andriy, Borys, Yelyzaveta, Anastasiia and Oleksandr (from left to right) are among the Ukrainians who have been staying at SRUC Oatridge.


Nearly 90 Ukrainians have been staying in student accommodation at SRUC while they look for work and a permanent home.

From doctors and film producers to cooks and students, the refugees were offered sanctuary in the country through the Scottish Government’s Super Sponsor Scheme.

Following a request by the Scottish Government, SRUC offered to house them in student accommodation at its Oatridge campus in West Lothian during the summer holidays.

Staff from West Lothian Council’s Anti-Poverty Service were also on campus to process £150 cash payments for the refugees, provide advice about accessing benefits such as Universal Credit and help with getting National Insurance numbers and biometric passports.

The refugees had all fled their country after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with some stopping in Germany and others in Poland before making their way to Scotland.

Yelyzaveta ‘Lisa’ Skrebtsova, 18, from Kharkiv, was studying English and Chinese before being forced to travel to Germany with her mother.

“For about one or two weeks, every day for half a day, we stayed in a subway shelter because of the bombs and explosions,” she said.

“In April, we went to Germany by car. I wanted to continue my studies, but I couldn’t do that there because I didn’t speak German.

“It was a childhood dream to come to the UK, so I applied for the Scottish programme.”

Having left her mum in Germany, and grandmother in Kharkiv, Lisa is now applying to study Software Engineering or Games Development at university.

Borys Buravchenkov, 49, from Kyiv, has been separated from his girlfriend and two young sons by the war.

While he initially moved to Western Ukraine to help other refugees leave the country, she travelled through Poland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden to be with friends in Norway,

“It’s not easy but I’m happy they’re not in Kyiv,” he said.

After the war started, Anastasiia Berezniak, 24, left her hometown of Sumy to go to Germany where her mother lives with her German husband.

Having left her dog Kosmo and cat Lutik there, the dairy company sales rep decided to move to Scotland.

“Scotland is a really wonderful country,” she said. “I want to try and stay here. I want to find a job and build my life here if it’s possible.”

Tom Mulhearn, Residential Operations Manager at SRUC’s Oatridge campus, said: “As an institution based in local communities across Scotland, we were delighted to be able to help the Scottish Government by providing temporary accommodation during the summer holidays.

“Over the last month we have welcomed 88 visitors from Ukraine - mainly men, with about ten women.

“It has been a positive experience for us, and I think for them as well. Our catering staff from BaxterStorey have given them three meals a day, we have given them beds to sleep in, with our cleaning company Pristine really stepping up to the mark, and the weather has been brilliant.

“I think they’re extremely grateful and it’s been fabulous talking to these people and learning a bit about them.”

Visit the Scottish Government website to find out more about the support of displaced people from Ukraine and how you can help.

Posted by SRUC on 18/08/2022

Tags: Oatridge
Categories: SRUC and Campuses