'I love Edinburgh, I love Scotland, but I didn't plan to come here'
The warm welcome the city gave Ukrainians fleeing Putin's war will never be forgotten - but major challenges remain for thousands of our newest citizens
Thousands of Ukrainians who have fled war in their country now call Edinburgh home – and in general they are glad they came to Scotland’s Capital, where the welcome has been both warm and genuine.
So much so, that the Capital has been lauded for the part it has played in supporting Ukrainian refugees, with two projects involving the city council deservedly winning national acclaim at the Scottish Public Service Awards.
But while those who have made the 2000-mile trip here may have escaped the daily stress and trauma, war never feels so far away. Friends and relatives who remained behind are constantly in their thoughts as missiles and bombs continue to fall on the places and people they love. As freezing winter tightens its grip with temperatures dropping below zero, Russia continues to target essential infrastructure. The cold also becomes the enemy.
Natalie Radchenko is appreciative and grateful for all that Edinburgh has provided for her and her two daughters, Karyna (21) and Dominika (10). In the 21 months she has been here, she has grown to love Scotland’s Capital.
She loves the friendliness of the people, their sense of politeness. She enjoys the beauty of the city centre, and the open green spaces of Holyrood Park and the magnificent Royal Botanic Garden. She is still awed by how often the sky changes, and by our proximity to both the hills and the sea.
And she is warm. But most of all she enjoys the peace. Safe, quiet, peace. She no longer endures the onset of panic and nausea as the warning sirens begin their prescient wailing, each time bringing the fear that this time the missile may hit her street, her home, her daughter’s school. At least, not directly. Like most of her fellows, she has an app on her phone which alerts her to the air raid sirens going off back home, and she suffers for those she loves at home.