By Steven Lynch
I have been working as Legal Caseworker for our Ukraine Advice Scotland project since July.
I applied for this position because the role was in an area of law that I was interested in but had no experience of being involved in. It also fit quite closely with the work that I had done in previous roles at Citizens Advice and Victim Support Scotland in terms of providing first tier advice and supporting people who had been exposed to trauma.
Through this role, I have been able to learn more about the Ukraine visa schemes as the UK Government created a system bypasses the usual refugee and asylum laws.
What I have learned
I have learnt most about the new Ukraine visa schemes and the way in which they operate. It has been useful to learn about these unique forms of humanitarian protection as similar schemes are likely to be introduced in the future. They show that the Government can implement effective policies to protect those fleeing conflict, when they have the will to do so. Managing the helpline twice a week and speaking directly to those who are seeking to come to Scotland from Ukraine has given me the opportunity to talk to many different people with connections to different parts of Ukraine and this has been very interesting.
It has been a very positive experience.
I have found it especially beneficial to work closely with other caseworkers who are always willing to take time to help me. It is also good to work in the office when members of different centres are working as it allows me to learn more about the projects that they are working on and increases my understanding of important areas of social justice. I also appreciate the supervision I receive: I regularly catch up with those leading the projects I work on. They give good guidance while also trusting me to solve problems myself and work on research individually.
I get to work with colleagues who are passionate and motivated about the work they do and who fight hard to ensure that what they are doing makes a difference and has a positive impact on the lives of people who are facing injustice. However, we also know that working in the charity sector also has its difficulties.
Supporting Ukrainians coming to Scotland
I understand that the work that we do is useful to those who seek our assistance. If by providing advice, we can make people’s journeys to Scotland easier and can help them to safely flee dangerous situations then it is a success. It’s also important to ensure that when people arrive, they receive the best support possible.
“Just because people flee dangerous situations doesn’t mean that they should have to be grateful for being provided with basic necessities. Everyone who arrives should be able to access services that allow them to live fulfilling and healthy lives.”
It is my hope that – by helping to make the Ukraine Humanitarian Schemes successful, this shows those with authority that same opportunities should be available to all people fleeing conflict or persecution arriving in the UK.