The 'Dnipro Kids' are now ready to start new lives in Edinburgh
Orphans who were forced to flee the horrors of Russia’s war on Ukraine have moved into new homes in the capital.
The youngsters – known as the ‘Dnipro Kids’ – had a harrowing overland journey to escape Vladimir Putin’s troops, constant shelling and aerial bombardments but became caught in a red-tape wrangle in Poland.
After issues over their travel documents were cleared they were ferried by coach to a waiting aircraft and flown to Edinburgh via London.
The children – who lived in group homes with siblings and carers in Ukraine – now have similar accommodations arrangements in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh City Council is understood to have organised additional support to meet their needs, assisted by a number of charities.
After arriving in Scotland, the 52 orphans aged between one and 18 were first taken to a hostel in Callander, Stirlingshire to be fully assessed and to spend time relaxing.
They were taken swimming, cycling and bowling and enjoyed a boat trip on Loch Katrine and visits to Blair Drummond Safari Park and Stirling Castle. The youngsters and adults were even given traditional Scottish Country Dancing lessons.
Stirling Council Chief Executive Carol Beattie, who addressed the group at a farewell event, said: “Given the terrible trauma experienced by the children and adults in fleeing Ukraine, we hope the last three weeks in Callander have been an opportunity for them to have some space, sanctuary and respite.
“I would also like to pay a heartfelt tribute our dedicated staff and our public sector partners who rose to the challenge magnificently to deliver such high-quality support and care to the children and young people.
“I also need like to thank the people of Callander and our other communities for their warm welcome to the children and adults and the incredible offers of support. The generosity and kindness from residents, organisations and businesses has really been overwhelming and a reminder of the fantastic community spirit.”
Steven Carr, Chairman of Dnipro Kids, which was formed by Hibernian FC supporters following a UEFA Cup trip, led the evacuation effort from several orphanages and has made a number of trips to oversee and help the operation..
He said: “We’re very grateful to Stirling Council for the hard work and dedication they’ve shown to the group these past few weeks. We couldn’t have asked for more.
“We’d also like to pay tribute to the local community for the many kindnesses shown, and for the warmth of the welcome given.”