Ukrainian refugees are becoming immersed in North Ayrshire community life as they adapt to their new surroundings and get involved in local activities.

A refugee-led community group called the Spike Wheat Scots has been set up and hosts a community hub from Whitehirst Park community centre in Kilwinning.

The group is now a keyholder at the premises and the community learning and development (CLD) new Scots team, other council services, external organisations and volunteers all help to ensure that it runs smoothly.

Cranberry Moss Community Centre also plays host to a Ukrainian guest-led community group.  This hub is supported in a similar manner to the Spike Wheat Scots group.

The organisation has engaged with the Department for Work and Pensions to provide a weekly drop-in for Ukrainian guests, supporting them with employability issues.

A programme of activities has been developed which has included input from Police Scotland and information sessions on Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. The group is also supported with governance.

The CLD team support refugee youth activities including a girls’ Duke of Edinburgh group, a boys’ group, girls and boys’ football, SWANS (girls-only youth group), and a dance group in partnership with Y-Dance.

One refugee, meanwhile, has been voted in as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Through the Spike Wheats Scots group,  an adults football group is now running. Organisers are in discussions with the Scottish Football Association and Street Soccer about coaching qualifications and games.

The CLD ‘New Scots’ team currently has one refugee as a core member of staff. They also have one refugee and three Ukrainian guests on their sessional employee list.

A language café is hosted monthly which brings together all New Scots to help improve their spoken English and engage with other New Scots learners. 

In partnership with East and South Ayrshire as part of the pan-Ayrshire English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) working group, a language-learning platform is being piloted and promoting independent learning, including the ESOL and other organisations.

Organisers are also in the final stages of being able to offer a community interpreting qualification.

Future work includes a joint bid with ‘Think Outside the Box’ which has been submitted to the National Lottery to work on a women’s-only project specifically for Arabic women.