"If we got a phone call today we would be ready," says Canon Peter McBride, as he shows us around the "airbnb" he has created at a Catholic church in Glasgow's west end.

At one point there were six priests living in the house at St Peter's, now there are two.

The row of empty bedrooms in the basement of the church house pricked at his conscience as he watched news bulletins showing the long lines of mothers and children preparing to leave their homeland.

"I came here seven years ago and I wanted to use the downstairs for that purpose then." said Canon McBride. "At that time I just felt as if I'm here on my own, this is ridiculous."


It wasn't possible at the time but when the war broke out and a world-wide plea went out to the public to give beds to refugees he says Glasgow's new Archbishop, William Nolan, was "very supportive." 

It is now just a waiting game and a long one at that. Plans to renovate the bedrooms and living spaces started in April but they are "still navigating" red tape and have not been given any indication yet when families might arrive. 

READ MORE: SNP admits Ukrainian refugees sheltered in hostels for 'too long'

Nicola Sturgeon’s Government appealed to UK ministers to become a super sponsor of the Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

The set-up means that the Scottish Government essentially brings in refugees from Ukraine before finding a home to place them.

Glasgow City Council has already housed 14 families in housing association properties and is preparing a further 36 while another Catholic parish also plans to take refugees into the church house.

The plan to take in Ukrainian refugees was sparked by a late night phone call Canon McBride received eight months ago.


"It was from Dover from a woman who works with refugees who said we've got an emergency situation in Glasgow.

"She said there were two young men who had absolutely nothing. It was a a crisis situation and she had got my number from the phone book.

"They were staying in Maryhill in the high rise flats. I went up and they couldn't speak any English. One was from Vietnam and the other was from Iran.

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"It was almost midnight by this time and I took them down to Byres Road and got them a Chinese takeaway.

"They had no food so I took them in here and gave them a couple of jackets and a few bags of food from our foodbank.


"Through time we sorted out getting them bus passes and so on.

"That was the impetus for this, "says Canon McBride, who is still recovering from a Covid infection in January that has kept him away from the five-a-side football he enjoys.

"We've got a Polish priest and Poland had been absolutely amazing taking in people when they have restrictions and limited space."

It's an indication of how out of touch the bubble of Westminster is.

He doesn't hold back in his criticism of the UK government's controversial decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

"I speak about it publicly all the time," he said. "It's shameful and a stain on our character.

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"There are lots of things that the Westminster government do that are a stain on our character, as if we are a big mass of people who all think the same - but we certainly don't."


He said it was notable that all five Anglican bishops in the House of Lords had spoken out against the policy. "That's very rare," he said. "It's an indication of how out of touch the bubble of Westminster is.

"We are Scots, we are welcoming people. That's quite different from the Westminister government and how they view the world and life.

"As Celts that sense of open-heartedness and hospitality, it's there. I'm not saying it's not there south of the border but in a very general way we are welcoming."

Canon McBride said safeguarding checks are now being carried out and hopes they aren't too far off from welcoming families.


They have created space for six to eight people."Ideally, it would suit two sisters with children but we will welcome anyone," he said. A fund has been collected for living costs for the families when they arrive.

"We keep asking him when they are coming," says Amanda Johnson, a family friend of Canon McBride's who has renovated the bedrooms and communal areas of the church house with Laura Pascoe and Joanna Dorego.


The church house now resembles a good airbnb with spotless white linen, aromatherapy diffusers and other welcoming touches. A soft toy is placed at the top of one of the new single beds.

The frosted glass on the windows is being replaced "so that they don't feel as if they are prisoners". When the families arrive, efforts will be made to connect the refugees with other Ukrainians in Glasgow. 

"They have done such a wonderful job," said Canon McBride proudly. "It's an ideal place to be. The shopping, the tourist attractions, everything is on their doorstep. 

"People who come here should feel safe and should feel cherished."