CHURCH OF SCOTLAND – RESPONSE TO UKRAINE CRISIS AND REFUGEES
by Revd Dr Sandy Forsyth, 8 April 2022
The Church of Scotland hosted a webinar last week setting out the possible avenues of response to the war in Ukraine and the plight of refugees, both by church members and congregations, as well as the Church nationally. If you would like to watch all of the contributions on the webinar, it can be accessed here -
HOSTING REFUGEES IN YOUR HOME
The only route presently available to host refugees is by visa application through the ‘Home for Ukraine’ scheme of the UK Government. Sabine Chalmers of the Church of Scotland has put together a helpful briefing page on how the scheme operates, including very important considerations to be taken into account if intending to host – see https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/resources/the-church-response-to-the-ukraine-crisis/homes-for-ukraine-briefing-for-churches
This route is for individuals or families in this country to connect with individuals or families in Ukraine to apply for a visa. The Church of Scotland nationally is considering whether to become a sponsor under the UK scheme, but it is not as yet. Therefore, if you are hoping to house refugees, it needs at present to be directly through the UK scheme, albeit the Scottish Government’s intervention means that a Scottish sponsor does not need to have named individuals in mind.
The Scottish Government is a ‘super sponsor’ under the UK scheme. Its route to accommodation, support and care in Scotland – the Warm Scots Welcome - removes the need for Ukrainian applicants to be matched to a named individual before they are cleared to travel to the UK through the visa system – see https://www.gov.scot/news/scheme-opens-for-displaced-ukrainians/
As an alternative, the organisation RESET can link individuals in the UK and Ukraine for the purposes of applying for visas under ‘Homes for Ukraine’ – see https://resetuk.org/about/ukraine
Religious organisations such as parish churches can ‘Record an Interest’ under the UK scheme at present, as the Government anticipates they might be able to become more directly involved soon. The question arises as to whether we should do so at Mayfield Salisbury.
RESPONDING THROUGH CAMPAIGNING, DONATING AND PRAYING
If hosting is not appropriate, Scottish Faith Action for Refugees has put together a helpful summary of other possible avenues of support - http://www.sfar.org.uk/7-things-you-can-do-to-respond-to-the-situation-in-ukraine/
For monetary donations, the Church of Scotland has been co-ordinating refugee work with partner churches through their appeal via ‘The Reformed Church in Hungary Aid’. The Church reports:
‘We thank everyone once again who has donated to the RCHA appeal, the total as of today [5 April] is £193,767, already some of this is being used in their work both in Ukraine and the countries around the border in which they work. We received some photos today from our Partner Church in Transcarpathia in Ukraine and some of our funds are helping them to make bread in their bakery and transport it as far as Kiev to people stranded there. They have also been able to provide food for the elderly who are still residing there.’
The UK government has also promised to match donations to the DEC’s Ukraine Appeal up to £20 million – donate at https://donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
For donating surplus goods and volunteering, see Volunteer Scotland - https://www.volunteerscotland.net/about-us/news-blog/news/domestic-support-for-refugees-ready-scotland-guidance/
For further prayer resources, see the webpage of the Student Christian Movement – https://www.movement.org.uk/blog/ukraine-group-resources-prayer-and-reflection
I’m happy to discuss further, both in relation to specifics above, and to Mayfield Salisbury’s involvement. As a church, there are several of our members intending to host – we should be fully supportive of them, both practically and prayerfully, and we should consider how to co-ordinate this soon.