The charity working to take a group of more than 50 orphaned Ukrainian children to safety in Scotland says it wants to turn the “trauma” they have experienced in their homeland into “an adventure they’ll remember for the rest of their lives”.
Dnipro Kids had hoped to be able to fly the 52 orphans – who are aged between one and 18 – and their carers from Warsaw in Poland to London on Monday, before taking them north to Scotland later in the week.
However, their flight on Monday was unable to take off after a key piece of paperwork was not provided in time.
With efforts still being made to bring them to the UK, Stirling Council is working to ensure accommodation and support is available to them.
The children are due to spend a number of weeks in the Callander area before then moving to Edinburgh.
Robert Brown of Dnipro Kids – a charity formed by supporters of Edinburgh’s Hibernian FC – said both it and Stirling Council were “committed to giving the children a wonderful time so that they can escape the trauma of what they’ve been through, and we can turn their experience into an adventure they’ll remember for the rest of their lives”.
He contacted Stirling Council last week when it was confirmed the youngsters would be coming to the UK, with the charity working with the local authority to put a “a comprehensive support package” in place.
Work has been taking place with local bodies, including NHS Forth Valley and Police Scotland, along with volunteers from local businesses, to ensure a facility in Callander is ready to welcome the youngsters when they arrive.
Mr Brown said: “The council deserve a lot of credit for this.”
Stirling Council chief executive Carol Beattie said: “Dnipro Kids approached us asking for support and our staff responded quickly to help make sure the children have what they need.
“The suffering faced by innocent families and communities is heart-breaking to witness and we are prepared to do whatever we can to help them.”
She continued: “Stirling Council has a proud history of welcoming and assisting refugees.
“We have participated in the Syrian refugee resettlement scheme since its launch in 2005 in response to the Syrian crisis and we are committed to supporting efforts to resettle Afghan nationals.
“Now we are stepping up to aid the innocent Ukrainian victims of the Russian military invasion.
“These children have shown enormous courage to flee the devastation and constant fear they were facing in their own homes to try to integrate somewhere new.
“Our first priority will be checking on the health and wellbeing of the young people, and making them feel welcome.
“After that, we have put in arrangements to ensure they are completely integrated into the community, whether that’s going to school or taking part in various activities.
“They will be warmly welcomed into Stirling’s communities where they will find support to get used to their new environment and help getting to know the country that has welcomed them.
“We stand ready to help in Stirling if there’s more we can do for the children.”
Mr Brown, meanwhile, urged people to donate whatever money they could to help support Ukraine.
He said: “Ukrainian men are in the front line of a fight to protect our democratic way of life. We must therefore do all we can to help their wives and children wherever they are. It is going to be a very long haul, so we need to donate and donate and donate.”