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Making the Granite City home

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

University and Council help refugees adjust to life in Aberdeen.


By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

photo courtesy of Aedan Brennan


Over the last year, Aberdeen has seen an influx of refugees and asylum seekers from countries beset by violent conflict, namely Afghanistan and Ukraine. These individuals and families have faced difficulties as they have acclimated to Aberdeen and the surrounding area.


Despite these hardships, members of the local community have welcomed these new arrivals to the Northeast. In Peterhead, the local Church of Scotland has hosted Afghan families for regular ‘Conversation Cafes,’ giving the families opportunities to practice their English skills and vocabulary. Similarly, several months ago, hundreds of Ukrainian children were treated to a fun day at Aberdeen beach; featuring free ice cream, games, and a trip to Codona’s.


Yet, despite a warm welcome, the struggle to find permanent housing for these families continues.

Speaking to The Gaudie, an Aberdeen City Council spokesperson confirmed that a significant number of both Afghan and Ukrainian individuals and families are currently living in the Granite City, awaiting resettlement in the city or elsewhere in Scotland.

Yet, despite a warm welcome, the struggle to find permanent housing for these families continues.

The spokesperson commented, ‘Currently Aberdeen hosts over 150 individuals through Afghan schemes on a temporary or long term basis… Two families have chosen to make Aberdeen City their home and more are looking for appropriately sized accommodation. ACC have made an offer of accommodation in line with what is readily available in our housing stock, based on the demands of our housing waiting list.’


When asked about how many Ukrainian nationals the council has accepted through the Ukrainian Resettlement Scheme, the spokesperson added, ‘Aberdeen City has welcomed over 150 households across the sponsorship schemes including private homes and social housing. There [are] over 400 families and individuals in Welcome Hub accommodation who are being matched locally and through a national matching scheme.’


Previous reporting by The Gaudie highlighted the use of the Brentwood Hotel on Crown Street as housing for young, male asylum seekers, as well as the challenges they faced in adjusting to life in Aberdeen and learning English.


A source told The Gaudie that the asylum seekers housed at the Brentwood have been given the opportunity to take ESOL (English for Speakers of other languages) classes at NESCOL in Aberdeen. A spokesperson for NESCOL confirmed this, commenting, ‘We work with partners to provide services and support to a range of groups, including asylum seekers and refugees…’


The University of Aberdeen has also extended support to students from Ukraine and Afghanistan.


A spokesperson said, ‘Our University community has offered its unqualified support and solidarity for the people of Ukraine… The measures announced to support new and current students affected by the war reflect both this commitment and our position within the global community.’


Accordingly, the University has committed to a wide range of provisions for all Ukrainian students who are accepted to study at Aberdeen, including tuition fee waivers, free accommodation, cash bursaries, and free technological equipment.


Speaking on the University’s support for Afghan refugees, the spokesperson remarked, ‘In May we partnered with the British Council as part of its Warm Welcome scholarships scheme to offer postgraduate opportunities to new students impacted by the situation in Afghanistan.’


These scholarships include complete fee waivers and nearly 13,000 pounds per annum to pay for living expenses. However, these scholarships, unlike those for Ukrainian students, are not available to all Afghan students, with only six made available in 2022.



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