Readers' letters: Bleak picture of Ukrainian refugee host households is inaccurate
Allow me to correct the misleading impression created by your headline “Seven in ten homes for Ukraine hosts finding their support for refugees has been hindered by cost-of-living crisis” (Scotsman, 11 August). I feel this creates a very misleading impression, especially here in Scotland.
1. We are hosts and have not been asked for our views by the ONS. Furthermore, it states quite clearly in the Scheme Guidance that the £350 per month payment is to cover any increases in outlay, and that we are not required to feed our hostee. Any increase in energy outlay has so far been minimal and is unlikely to increase very much as our guest is very careful about wasting energy and fully aware of the environmental challenges we all face. We do buy food because our guest is part of the family, but she also buys her own food and, like all Ukranians on the scheme, she gets Universal Credit.
2. Related to the above point, there is no need whatever for hosts to pay for stuff for their guests, though many willingly do. In addition to Universal Credit, our guest gets a free bus pass, Edinburgh Leisure card, and access to all our public services. She also gets excellent provision for free language classes and help in finding a job.
3. This article seems to be about the UK scheme but this is irrelevant here. The SuperSponsor scheme is one thing that both the Scottish Government and all our local authorities have done really well, albeit rather slowly. And against a background of staff shortages and all the other challenges they face in these extraordinary times. Finding a suitable person for us, complete with a visa and all the above benefits, has all been done for us.
4. Someone was complaining about lack of mental health support. This is misleading as well, because the Opora website states quite clearly there is plenty of capacity for online mental health counselling by both Ukranian- and Russian-speaking counsellors. Plus our guests can sign up for their local GP, for free of course.
I do feel the complaints you read about the scheme in the news only focus on a small minority of cases and that most of us feel very thankful to be able to do something to help.
Brian Carson, Edinburgh
As a graduate of Aberdeen University, I was surprised when I learned that they were giving a "trigger warning" to students who might read Beowulf, as young people attend university to broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding of matters of which they knew little or nothing before becoming students.
Having read a lot of literature in my time in both Old (and Middle) English, Latin and modern English, there is much that contains violence and pain, defecation and worse, as does life itself.
Now, I understand that Aberdeen is to give "trigger warnings" in part of their French course; one which I also studied in my time there. Of course, the subjects embrace not only the French language, but also a good measure of French history from the time of the Empire onwards. Anyone who has been caught in a riot on the Boul’ Mich’ in Paris knows how violent it can be in France. Apparently, the warnings include “the climate crisis, responses to terrorism, family relationships...the diversity of France...and homophobia”.
I am sure that Aberdeen University would agree that it is difficult to watch the TV news anywhere nowadays without one or more of those topics leading, so why it should be especially upsetting in a French context is a puzzle.
Perhaps the solution would be for Aberdeen University to have a trigger warning to all potential students? It should say: “If applying to the university, be aware that you may learn things here of which you were previously unaware. Some of these things may upset you, but that is called growing up. It happens in real life too.”
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
If Cammy Day as our Edinburgh council leader has a plan B for the forthcoming bin strike as one of our accountable and elected representatives he is duty-bound to inform the public what it is. For if we are to judge by plan A – existing collections – they are often unpredictable and inadequate.
As a citizen of the city I have every sympathy for the bin workers who do a very difficult and dirty job and are being patronised with a two per cent offer when inflation is climbing.
However, the effects of a strike on the streets, especially in this very hot weather and in the middle of the Festival, will be horrendous for us all. Seeing bins with pesky seagulls ripping bags open and the strong possibility of a rat infestation is a very depressing prospect now looming.
If Cosla is incapable of reaching an agreement and the £140 million injection does not produce a viable settlement should not the Scottish Government redouble its efforts to seek a solution acceptable to all parties since it has stated that it will be fighting the next election on its track record of achivements?
Time is rapidly running out and heads need to be banged together now for the greater good.
Jim Park, Edinburgh
While visiting a beautiful valley in the Scottish Borders recently I witnessed the harsh physical reality of a government policy that is being replicated throughout the country.
Thousands of acres of what has been designated as "poor livestock land” where sheep and cattle once provided employment and food, are becoming bereft of livestock, vanquised by an invincible army of conifer plantations.
If those responsible for this desecration chose to leave their ivory towers and venture beyond the visually appealing margins of hardwoods they would, in time find themselves confronted by the impenetrable sunless ranks of spruce devoid of biodiversity.
Obviously the objective is to avert a climate catastrophe by capturing excess carbon dioxide while simultaneously achieving their desired 40 per cent reduction of methane emitting livestock. The meteoric 78 per cent rise in land values since 2020 has resulted in plantable hill ground reaching £8,500 per acre. Consequently, genuine farm buyers are being regularly outbid by big business interests keen to offset their emissions with an eye on a potentially lucrative carbon trading market and handsome returns from timber investments.
The proposed programme of planting some 33,000 acres per year until 2030 will take well in excess of 40 years to sequester less than two per cent of UK fossil fuel emissions. With the Scotland being responsible for just 0.13 per cent of global emissions this is an irrational policy that rings the death knell for many farming communities and businesses.
Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders
The vision thing
So seven UK cities make it on to the shortlist to host Eurovision 2023, including Glasgow. If Glasgow isn't chosen, presumably Nicola Sturgeon and her dyed-in-the-wool separatist supporters will distort the decision into an anti-Scottish conspiracy.
If Glasgow is selected, will Sturgeon attempt turn this quintessentially British fun-filled extravaganza into a saltire-waving, pro-Indyref2 event, with some tokenistic virtue-signalling about Ukraine on the side?
Martin Redfern, Melrose, Scottish Borders
Surely the SNP will not allow Glasgow to host the Eurovision Song contest? The date will be during Ms Sturgeon's intended independence referendum drive and it is a bad look to be promoting the UK whilst trying to leave it.
Of course there is another side to this, the option of Ms Sturgeon drawing attention to herself. Making your mind up time?
Gerald Edwards, Glasgow
Sligo Rovers, Union Saint Gilloise and now AZ 67 Alkmaar's seven-goal demolition of Dundee United – their fans leaving before half-time like huffy children not playing any more – have put on notice how low Scottish domestic football has gone compared to our European cousins.
As a Heart of Midlothian fan, I'm resigned to the fact that one can roll two dice to calculate the likely final goal tally we will lose to FC Zurich by shortly.
However, since the Ibrox “master race” survived to live another round, thanks to the routine dubious penalty and even more dubious sending off of an opposing player which marks so many Rangers matches, as far as Neil Doncaster and the rest of the wise monkeys at Scottish football headquarters are concerned, all is well in the Brigadoon reality of Hampden.
Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire
Jill Stephenson speculates in relation to the Common Travel Area that an (independent) Scotland having a very different immigration policy from that of the (remainder of) the UK would not work (Lettters, 12 August).
However, Ireland and the UK currently have “very different” immigration policies, and the Common Travel Area (CTA) continues to work.
Furthermore, the UK government and the government of Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 8 May 2019, reaffirming the arrangements between them in relation to the CTA. Their Joint Statement of the same date reaffirmed the “enduring nature of the relationship between our two countries and the unique ties between our citizens”.
My own speculation is that the CTA could take in an independent Scotland, but that any UK government which tried to exclude Scotland from the CTA would disadvantage citizens of both Scotland and the remainder of the UK, and damage the unique ties between them.
E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire
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