Ukrainians take part in litter pick as thanks to 'welcoming' Scotland

They organised the event as a token of gratitude for the welcome they have received to Scotland.

Ukrainian refugees take part in litter pick as gesture of thanks to ‘welcoming’ Scotland Twitter

A Ukrainian community has come together to take part in a litter pick as a gesture of thanks to Scots who have welcomed them to the country.

A group of around 50 people in Edinburgh took part as they helped clean up at the Restalrig Railway Path in Leith.

They were joined by Neil Gray, the Scottish Government’s minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine.

Zhenya Dove is a Ukrainian national who has lived in Edinburgh for the last eight years.

Originally from occupied Kherson, Ms Dove has helped to support those who have arrived in Scotland in the months since Russia’s invasion.

In an interview with STV News, she said it had been “heart-warming” to see the response of Scots to those arriving in the country.

“The welcome has been incredible,” she said.

“I keep getting contacted by people, by local Scottish people, who want to either donate children’s clothes or scooters and bikes, all sorts of things, just to help out the Ukrainians who’ve arrived here.

“It’s so heart-warming because obviously my faith in humanity has been somewhat shaken lately.

“But, on the other hand, you just see this other side of it, this human kindness.”

Ms Dove explained that Ukrainians in Scotland are eager to help out and to contribute to their new communities.

She said: “Some Ukrainians don’t have jobs, some do. They have enough free time and they are actually keen to volunteer.

“They come up to me a lot asking me for opportunities to be useful to the community.

“And I think this is just the first of the events that we are going to do.”

She added all of those who have come to Scotland have been “overjoyed” to be in the country.

“I haven’t heard a single negative thing, I’ll be honest with you,” she said.

“I don’t know if it’s just my experience, I’ve no idea, but all of them have been overjoyed.”

Despite enjoying their experience living in the country, some aspects of Scottish culture are still a step into the unknown.

“My friend is refusing to eat haggis! I’m telling her it’s the best thing ever, like try it! I eat it all the time, I just love it,” she said.

“But you know what, when I first tried it, I didn’t like it, it took me a couple of years and now I can’t live without it. So just give them a chance!

“Irn-Bru is a hit. It tastes like bubble-gum and who doesn’t like that. Children love it. Yes, Irn-Bru is incredible.”

Ms Dove underlined the mental impact for those who have had to leave their homes in Ukraine and start a new life.

“I think some are a bit apprehensive because of the language,” she said.

“A lot of people had to give up careers, they had a really good life. They had businesses, properties, holiday plans – they were living the life and now they have to start afresh.

“So, they do have to start from the very, very bottom.”

Reflecting on the experience of her sister, she explained that the transition can be difficult for self-esteem.

“She used to manage a chain of restaurants and now she’s working in the restaurant as a trainee chef,” she said.

“It’s difficult for self-esteem… you can see how it can be soul-crushing to build your life having dedicated all your life to something and then just have nothing to show for it.”

Ms Dove said that she is inspired by the unity and bravery demonstrated by her country’s people.

“I always knew Ukrainians are incredible, I mean I never thought they were as incredible as the war has shown,” she said.

“The unity and the bravery… they inspire me.”

She added: “It’s something to behold this community spirit, I’ve never seen my nation as united as it is now.

“I saw a video of some Ukrainian official, I think, saying that Putin has done more for the unity of Ukrainians than any Ukrainian leaders could ever have done.

“It became an issue of our survival and that’s what it took. We put our differences aside for now and just work on our common goal.”

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