THE scale of the welcome given by North Ayrshire to Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes after Russia's invasion has been laid bare in a new report.

A total of 395 people have been resettled in North Ayrshire after fleeing Ukraine when Vladimir Putin's forces invaded in February 2022.

Thanks to the efforts of health and council workers, in conjunction with the Home Office, they've joined refugees from Syria and Afghanistan in finding new homes across the district.

The details were revealed in a document setting out North Ayrshire Council's local housing strategy, approved recently by members of the council's cabinet.

However, the report also reveals a spike in demand for temporary and permanent housing as a result of homelessness closer to home - a pressure which, according to the document, almost resulted in a breach of the council's statutory duties during the last quarter of 2022-23. 

The Ukrainian refugees who have been resettled in the area in the past 16 months join the 201 people - from 41 families - who have been provided with safe and secure homes in North Ayrshire by the council and the area's health and social care partnership after being displaced by the war in Syria.

According to the report, a further 10 people, from two households, were resettled in the area under the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS). 

The local authority has also provided support for families fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of American and NATO forces in 2021.

It will continue to support these resettlement programmes and add to the 36 Afghan nationals (eight families) who had already arrived by April 30, 2022.

More recently, the council has responded to the humanitarian crisis created as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

The 395 Ukrainians who have been helped to settle in North Ayrshire after fleeing Ukraine come from 185 families - officially known as Ukrainian Displaced Households (UDPs).

A total of 110 social rented properties have been provided to people left without a safe home after the Russian invasion - along with support and advice.

The report says the council is working with the Scottish Government to identify and develop temporary accommodation for use of UDPs currently residing within the cruise ship docked in Edinburgh and for those living within hotel accommodation.

To prepare for the arrival of these vulnerable households, the local authority has established amulti-agency ‘refugee task force’ to provide strategic direction, target resources, help build cross-agency capacity, and ensure coordinated communications and operational support.

The report warns that the rise in demand caused by homelessness means there is "limited scope to provide further social rented housing", outwith the pledges already made across various humanitarian programmes. 

Council officers will continue to work with the Scottish Government, COSLA and other local authorities to identify options to increase the supply of short, medium and longer-term accommodation for the use of the UDPs.