A new community hub has opened its doors for Ukrainian refugees as they approach their first Christmas in Scotland.

The launch of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, located in Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, was announced by the Glasgow Branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB).

Founded in 1946 by Ukrainians who came to Great Britain at the end of the Second World War, the AUGB is the largest representative body for Ukrainians and those of Ukrainian descent in the UK. 

The body, which has its headquarters in London’s Notting Hill, exists to develop, promote and support the interests of the Ukrainian community in the UK and foster and advance Ukrainian knowledge, culture, arts, heritage and traditions.

It does so by working closely with other community organisations, including the Association of Ukrainian Women, the Association of Ukrainian Teachers and youth organisations. 

READ MORE: Displaced Ukrainians staying connected to mother tongue with 'Mini Library' project

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre near Glasgow is being heralded as a safe space for newly-arrived Ukrainians to the city and surrounding areas and one they can attend to learn English, meet their fellow Ukrainians, take art and music lessons and participate in activities such as coffee mornings.

And with the experience of a first Christmas away from their native country on the horizon for many displaced Ukrainians who have arrived in Scotland, the centre will also provide them the comfort of being able to stay connected to their Ukrainian Christmas traditions.

It will be officially opened in a ceremony attended by East Renfrewshire Provost Mary Montague  alongside members of the Glasgow branch of the AUGB alongside on Saturday.

The Ukrainian Cultural Centre is the second such community hub to open in Scotland after the Edinburgh Ukrainian Club. Home to the Edinburgh chapter of the AUGB, it has promoted Ukrainian Culture and catered for Ukrainians in Scotland, their families and descendants in the capital since 1964 - the same year the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain was founded. 

HeraldScotland: The Ukrainian Cultural Centre The Ukrainian Cultural Centre (Image: Newsquest)

A number of other social/cultural centres can also to be found within the AUGB’s network of local branches across the UK.

Speaking about the new cultural centre, Kateryna Campbell, Secretary of the Glasgow Branch of the AUGB, told the Herald: “The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain Glasgow Branch is proud to announce the opening of the Ukrainian Culture Centre in Clarkston. This has all become possible due to the tireless work of the co-founder and active member of our Branch, Oksana Mavrodii. We would also like to thank Greenbank Church and Eastwood Rotary Club for their support.

“The Centre will provide a safe and secure environment for Ukrainian refugees to socialize, meet others, maintain Ukrainian culture, come for information and help, for English lessons and other activities. This will help them integrate into local society and help understand Scottish culture. 

“Having a centre like this will also help local authorities understand that needs of Ukrainian refugees, As it is a gathering place for Ukrainians, who can share any issues and problems they are experiencing.”

The opening of the new centre comes after The Herald revealed that the Glasgow branch of the AUGB have set up mini libraries to allow displaced Ukrainians now living in Glasgow to access literature in their own language and children to stay connected to their mother tongue and culture. 

HeraldScotland: Jeanne Roddick, minister at Greenbank Parish Church where the hub is basedJeanne Roddick, minister at Greenbank Parish Church where the hub is based (Image: Newsquest)

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 the city at 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. 

With the help of Glasgow east end community hub Cranhill Development Trust and 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. 

A fundraiser by the Glasgow branch of the AUGB has raised over £500 to date towards a desired total of £2,000 to allow them to continue to purchase books in Ukraine and expand the mini libraries.

To date, over 22,000 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.