MOTHERS who fled from their homes in Ukraine with their young children have faced months-long stays in hotels and difficulties accessing both childcare and schools in Scotland.

With many Ukrainians arriving in the UK with young children, the Scottish Government has been urged to ensure free childcare for those under the age of three as some mothers face a range of issues.

Some mothers with multiple children have also been forced to spent one to two months in hotels, while a sponsor or accommodation is sought through the Scottish Government sponsorship scheme.

Others with school-age children have often been assigned schools which are a “thirty-minute drive away”, after schools in walking distance that rejected them.

The Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee heard from consul general Yevhen Mankovskyi who raised issues faced by families arriving in Scotland.

The official at the Ukrainian Consulate in Edinburgh said that the majority of the Ukrainians who have arrived in Scotland are mothers with children yet childcare has been a “big problem”.

Local authorities across Scotland provide up to 1140 hours of funded childcare for three and four-year-olds, but families have been unable to seek jobs due to a lack of free support for younger children.

“Unfortunately, it is a very big problem,” he said. “It is not cheap to pay for nursery and these mums just don’t know what they can do in this case because they need this support.”

Mr Mankovskyi said he was “appreciative” of what the Government and the Scottish Parliament have done to support Ukrainians but that nurseries remained a “big question” that needed to be resolved.

He claimed that around 500 Ukrainians have spent up to two months staying in hotels, including mums with children.

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Speaking to the committee, he said: “It’s okay for those who are alone, who arrived alone, because they are happy, they are in a safe place. They are receiving meals three times a day. It is fine for them.”

However, he called for social housing to be found for mothers with two or more kids for whom the hotel accommodation is less suitable.

Families with school-aged children are also in some cases finding it “very difficult” to ensure the provided school placement is accessible, the consul general said as he called for an appeal process for the displaced residents.

“There are some cases, it is not often, but some cases where the school is just a five-minute walk from the accommodation, but when the family and mum try to apply for these schools [it] rejects them.”

He called for “some exemptions for such type of families” or guidance in making an appeal to the school.  

While praising Scotland for what it has done to welcome Ukrainians, he also emphasised that English classes for both adults and kids would be a welcome support.