A community group set up to help Ukrainian refugees says it expects up to 80 people from the war-torn country to make Highland Perthshire their home this year.
Highland Perthshire Welcomes Ukraine was set up in response to the Russian invasion.
The group – led by Aberfeldy-based Gavin Price – received so much support that it could not fit everyone into the room for its first meeting.
Since then, volunteers in the area have already housed 35 refugees – with more waiting on visas to come to the UK.
‘We could have up to 80 people’
The organisation provides a range of support for new arrivals.
Gavin said: “We could have up to about 80 people by the time it’s finished.
“There are 22 families in total, either here now or about to come.
“It’s been challenging, but it’s been quite successful.
“We’ve been able to to provide a lot of support like buying plane tickets, and for some we’ve had to get Airbnb accommodation when they’ve been made homeless.
“The fundraising that’s been done locally has been fundamental to that.”
Highland Perthshire Welcomes Ukraine has about 30 volunteers – including some of the Ukrainians themselves – who are helping to get refugees settled.
The volunteers assist with filling out visa applications, registering with doctors, opening bank accounts, registering for national insurance and arranging any transport they need.
They have also arranged English lessons and provided each family with clothing, toiletries, a laptop and an iPad.
“It’s been a real community effort,” said Gavin.
“There’s just been such enthusiasm locally with people getting involved.
It’s not all roses and there’s a lot going on… it’s not going to be fixed overnight
“It’s building that trust for Ukrainians who don’t know where Aberfeldy is and it’s building that support network.
“But we have to be mindful of some families struggling to adapt – it’s not all roses and there’s a lot going on.
“It’s not going to be fixed overnight.”
Luxury breaks on offer for Ukrainian fund
Community fundraising efforts have ensured continued support for the refugees as they set up new lives in the UK.
Mains of Taymouth Country Estate and Golf Course in Kenmore is raffling off eight luxury short breaks with a combined value of more than £10,000 to raise funds for the cause.
About £6,000 worth of tickets has already been sold via the website along with local shops and visitor attractions.
The estate has also put together a programme of fundraising on Highland Perthshire’s traditional raft race weekend of June 18 and 19.
Owner Robin Menzies says the campaign is “close to our hearts” as his wife Irena’s parents were both Polish refugees at the end of the Second World War.
He said: “Her father was wounded and got rescued by the British Army and taken to Taymouth Castle.
‘The group in Aberfeldy have been fantastic’
“Irena’s mother was a prisoner of war with the Germans and she managed to escape to Taymouth Castle and worked there as a nurse.
“They met and I think they actually had their first child there at the castle.
“So we wanted to help the people coming over here, and the group in Aberfeldy have been fantastic with organising the admin and everything they need to get settled.”
Highland Perthshire Welcomes Ukraine is also hoping to secure longer-term funding, over and above money raised through local charitable efforts.