A FUNDRAISER has been launched to help expand mini libraries that have been set up to allow displaced people from Ukraine now living in Glasgow to access literature in the own language and children to stay connected to their mother tongue and culture. 

The Mini Libraries project allows Ukrainians who have sought safety in Glasgow to access books in their native tongue at four locations in and around Glasgow: Scotland's National Centre for Languages (SCILT) at the University of Strathclyde, The Sikorski Polish Club, The Ukrainian East Renfrewshire Hub and at the MS Ambition cruise ship docked on the River Clyde, which is currently offering temporary accommodation to over 1,000 Ukrainian refugees. 

The project, which has been several months in the making, is the brainchild of The Glasgow Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB). 

With the help of Glasgow east end community hub Cranhill Development Trust and the The Sikorski Polish Club - a centre for the Polish community in Glasgow - books for both children and adults have been purchased in Ukraine from popular Ukrainian publishing houses. 

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Kateryna Campbell, Secretary of AUGB’s Glasgow Branch, told the Herald: “We have started this mini libraries project in partnership with Sikorski Club, who are great friends of ours and they help us out a lot. We basically ordered books from Ukraine and we had them delivered here. 

“We’ve set up four mini libraries in Glasgow. One is at the Sikorski Club, one is in the Scottish Centre for Languages at Strathclyde University and we’ve set up another one at a Ukrainian hub in East Renfrewshire. And the liner in Glasgow that’s housing Ukrainians, we’ve also purchased books and passed them on to management on the liner for them to also start a mini library onboard. 

HeraldScotland: Members of AUGB Glasgow with books for the mini librariesMembers of AUGB Glasgow with books for the mini libraries (Image: AUGB Glasgow)

“A lot of people had been writing to us to tell us that the kids don’t have any books. That’s not the first thing you bring unfortunately when you are fleeing a war. A lot of people came with nothing. It was mostly women and children that were coming so there is a need for it. 

“Kids go off to the local school here and it only takes a short while for them to start changing to English or using English more often. Our focus is for the children to be able to maintain Ukrainian and be able to read books in Ukrainian so they don’t forget their native tongue.”

AUGB Glasgow is seeking to raise £2,000 to continue to purchase books in Ukraine and expand the existing mini libraries that have been set up at locations across Glasgow, including at churches in the city which have opened their doors to displaced Ukranians, such as Sherbrooke Mosspark Parish Church in Glasgow’s south side.

Ms Campbell added: “We have quite a lot of expenses and not too much income. We think this is a great project for other people to support it and to donate to. There are several other hubs that operate too, such as churches. We can possibly consider giving some books to them. It is about the quantity of books but we can also add more locations because there’s people spread out all across Glasgow.

“Predominantly we bought children’s books but there is also books for teenagers and adults. We are just looking for more books. We did buy a substantial amount but its not been too much as we have four locations for the mini-libraries. So we are just trying to expand that to keep going with it. 

“For the kids we ordered encyclopedias, science books and fictions book by both Ukrainian books and non-Ukranian authors which have been translated into Ukrainian, like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. There’s Ukrainian history books and fairytale books as well. The same goes for the adult books too, we’ve purchased books like Fahrenheit 451.”

To date, over 21,000 displaced Ukrainians have arrived in Scotland - a fifth of all UK arrivals, while over 35,000 visas naming a Scottish sponsor have been issued through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Scottish ministers had expected the situation to be similar to receiving refugees from Syria, when 3,000 people were accepted over five years. 

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