A Ukrainian refugee living in Dundee says she’s been made to feel “at home” as the city drums up support those fleeing the war with Russia.
Oksana Pyasta left her homeland six weeks ago after a missile strike on a nearby airport and is now living in a flat in Dundee with her daughter.
She is one of around 100 refugees being helped by a church in Broughty Ferry, which holds regular ‘meet and greet’ events for the growing Ukrainian community.
It has opened a free shop full of donated clothes, shoes, food and household goods, and the chance to make new friends over coffee and scones.
“I’m so grateful, I feel like I’m at home,” said Oksana.
“Everyone is smiling, everyone is supporting us and everyone is trying to help, with advice, with good words, with love, with care, with everything that we need, and what every person deserves.
“It’s also a good chance to meet each other, to communicate and just to be with friends, to speak Ukrainian. That is very important.”
Broughty Ferry Baptist Church has been running the twice-monthly meetings since March.
“We realised that some of the families who were coming from Ukraine were coming with nothing, or very little,” explained organiser Moraig Piggot.
“With amazing support from the local community we’ve had various donation days where we’ve gathered clothes and toys and toiletries and shoes and food; anything that we get the feeling that people would need.
“We now have local hairdressers coming along to offer free haircuts, we’ve got musicians providing entertainment and what’s amazing is that, as we’ve got to know our Ukrainian friends, they want to get involved. We’ve got a young mum-of-two who had a job dressing shops in Ukraine, so she sets out the shop very beautifully for us.
“Being a church, we just want to show love to people, make them feel welcome and know that they have our love and support.”
More Ukrainian refugees have just arrived at temporary accommodation in Dundee.
“With the increase in numbers, there’s increased demand for clothing and shoes in particular, so we’re yet again calling on our amazing local community and beyond to donate clothes and shoes of all sizes and genders,” added Moraig.
“We need to re-stock ourselves but we also want to help some of the local aid agencies that have had to give out a lot of their supplies. So we will sort it all out, box it all up and what we don’t need we’ll then deliver on to other agencies.”
Dundee City Council says it’s ‘immensely grateful’ to all those who are helping to support refugees while arrangements are made for longer-term stays across Scotland.
For Oksana, Dundee is a safe haven for now, but home is where her heart is.
“I’ve got a husband in Ukraine, my mum, a dog, so we are definitely going to be back. We just wait for the war to finish, for Ukraine to win, and with our victory, we definitely will be coming home,” she said.