Royal Bank of Scotland seeks donations for Ukraine support at national welcome centre
Royal Bank of Scotland has called for donations to support Ukrainian refugees arriving in the capital through its donation distribution hub.
The hub runs alongside the Welcome Centre for Scotland, which was created through a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and local partners, and hosted within RBS’ Gogarburn headquarters. Using funding issued by the Scottish Government to local authorities to support welcome efforts, the Welcome Centre opened its doors earlier this year to support those resettling in the country and has been the first port of call for thousands of displaced Ukrainian citizens.
Staff from the City of Edinburgh Council are on hand to process entrance paperwork upon arrival, facilitate introductions with host families or find temporary accommodation for the many people who arrive without a place to stay.
To allow families and individuals to settle into their new home quickly and begin to adjust to life in Scotland, paperwork is completed within the centre on the same day – meaning people can make necessary medical or legal appointments as soon as possible. Relevant literature is provided as part of a Scottish Government-produced welcome pack.
Everyone arriving at the Welcome Centre is also offered an essentials pack made up of donations to help them settle in for the first few days. The packs contain day-to-day necessities such as toiletries, clothing, UK electrical adapters and toys for young children.
With the number of displaced people to the centre increasing daily and supplies of essentials packs depleted, the donations hub is today issuing an urgent call, asking businesses and members of the public who are looking for a way to support the Ukrainian crisis to donate towards the cost of these essential items.
The cost of each complete pack is around £30 and any donation will make a valuable difference, especially to those arriving with no belongings.
Donations can be made to the GoFundMe set up by Volunteer Edinburgh, who meet the Ukrainian people arriving at the airport and bring them to the Welcome Centre, and also help to purchase the welcome pack items in bulk.
An Amazon Wishlist has been set up to facilitate donations, where anyone wanting to support these efforts can buy individual items such as toothpaste, sanitary products, rain coats and hand sanitiser. These items are delivered directly to the hub and packed by volunteer staff.
Businesses who would like to help can donate directly through the GoFundMe, via the Amazon wishlist or can send donations directly to the RBS’ Gogarburn offices marked for the attention of Skillbank.
Sheena Hales, who leads the Skillbank at RBS, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic, we recognised an opportunity to make use of our facilities and converted the conference centre at Gogarburn into a foodbank distribution hub, coordinating deliveries and offering storage space to charities including Social Bite and Cyrenians.
“This charitable legacy has continued ever since, and we’re honoured to have set up the Skillbank to offer our skills and resources to help communities and people in their time of need.
“While Edinburgh has welcomed many Ukrainian people to Scotland through the doors of the Welcome Centre, the reality is that we know there are many more coming who have fled the horrors of war, leaving their lives and loved ones to seek safety here in Scotland.
“While handing out items like a toothbrush or colouring book might seem like a small act, everything we can do to help people feel as welcome as possible is hugely important.
“Currently we have used all of our existing essentials pack stock so any donation – big or small – is massively appreciated.”
Minister with special responsibility for Refugees from Ukraine, Neil Gray, said: “The safety and welfare of displaced people from Ukraine, who are primarily women and children who may have experienced much stress and trauma, is of paramount importance to the Scottish Government. I want to thank people and businesses across Scotland for the huge groundswell of solidarity and support they have shown for the people of Ukraine.
“On arrival, displaced people are given a ‘Warm Scots Welcome’ at the Welcome Hubs, where the Scottish Government is working in partnership with local government and the third sector to assess their needs and provide accommodation and meals along with emotional support and medical attention if required.
“The work undertaken by RBS and the other volunteer organisations in addition to this is extremely important, providing people with items to help them settle into Scotland.”
City of Edinburgh Council leader, Cammy Day, said: “As I’ve said many times already, Edinburgh’s people and businesses have been absolutely outstanding throughout this crisis, offering their unwavering support to Ukrainian people fleeing their homeland in these most desperate of times.
“From volunteers meeting people on their arrival in Edinburgh, to getting help with accommodation and receiving ongoing support at our advice centre and within the local Ukrainian community, we’re here for them every step of the way.
“I want to thank Royal Bank and their teams for their incredible support – for volunteering Gogarburn House to host our Welcome Hub, where it has run successfully since April, for repurposing their conference facilities to distribute food packages, for their co-ordination of thousands of guest backpacks, filled with nappies, toys, toiletries and other essential items, and for this latest fundraising drive to help gather much-needed donations.”
Situated in Gogarburn, the welcome centre is ideally located to welcome those arriving at nearby Edinburgh airport.
To support volunteers working within the centre, colleagues within RBS have given up their time to become executive coaches – helping them to navigate the demands of their role and offering expert mentoring advice.
RBS has also worked with suppliers to extend its colleague-wide counselling service to offer staff and volunteers working with vulnerable individuals a confidential outlet and mental wellbeing support.