We all continue to be horrified by the illegal war in Ukraine, and we are ready to extend the warmest of Scottish welcomes to those who are fleeing the war. We have been working rapidly with a range of partners to ensure that displaced Ukrainians arrive to a place of safety and security. We have established welcome hubs at key entry points, to support people with what they need immediately on arrival and to assess their medium to longer-term needs.
We are working with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to provide accommodation, as well as exploring all viable public and private sector housing options and, of course, offers from members of the public who have generously offered to open their own homes.
I thank the First Minister for the Scottish Government’s on-going work in the area. I also congratulate my good friend and colleague Neil Gray on his recent appointment as the minister for Ukrainian refugees. It is a fitting appointment. Our two constituencies, which make up the wider Monklands area, have a rich shared history, and we have both been deeply touched in recent weeks by the magnitude of the response of people in Coatbridge and Chryston and Airdrie and Shotts to the crisis and their tremendous willingness to support those who are seeking refuge. How will the Scottish Government ensure that the welcome hubs that she mentioned support displaced people from Ukraine to find peace and safety in Scotland after the stress and trauma of escaping from an illegal war?
The welcome hubs are a really important initial part of what we want to offer. They will assess immediate needs, take a multi-agency approach and provide wraparound support. That will include having trained staff on call to support people who are experiencing trauma.
The welcome hubs will also be able to begin the assessment of longer-term needs, including accommodation requirements.
We now have the supersponsor route in place. That is in addition to the homes for Ukraine route and, of course, the family route. We have the support ready to be provided here. The bit in the middle is getting the visa applications granted so that people can start to arrive in numbers.
I will get an update later today, but the update that I had yesterday was that more than 1,000 applications had been made through the supersponsor scheme, and there had been just under 1,000 individual matching applications, I think. Obviously, we are still improving data flows, so there will be some uncertainty around those figures. However, we need to see a significant speeding up of the granting of those applications in order that people can come here and start to access the support that we have ready for them on that multi-agency basis.