REFUGEES who fled persecution in Syria thanked Scottish people for “welcoming them into their hearts” - but say more must be done to help traumatised families who come to the city.

Some who arrived in Glasgow a year ago after being driven out of their country praised the kindness of Glaswegians as they work to rebuild their lives.

The refugees, who spoke exclusively to the Evening Times, were hand-picked as part of a United Nations scheme which has seen the most vulnerable resettled across Europe, with many more due to arrive.

Glasgow City Council is responsible for caring for them under the Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme (VPRS).

But the families living in the city’s Southside said they have also had to turn to local volunteers for support and help.

They say they are struggling to cope with the mental trauma of the extreme violence they have witnessed and the desperation of losing everything.

Both families - who have stressed that they are grateful to be living in Scotland - say more can be done to help refugees starting new lives in the city.

Ahlam Souidi, the founding member of UNIS and who has been working with the families, said: “These families have really suffered and lived through things many people could not imagine.

“They were handpicked, by the UN, as the most vulnerable.

“Many are really struggling to cope with the trauma of what they have been through.

“We have been heavily involved in their lives as we try to make sure they have the help and support that they need.

“We are happy to help them but we feel we are stepping in to sort things that should already be covered by the UN scheme.”

The families have also complained to Glasgow City Council over housing issues - a family was left without a working washing machine, and the father, who was recovering from back surgery, fell and injured his knee after being housed in a high flat.

Another family, desperate to integrate into their community, say it has taken them a year to be enrolled in additional English lessons at a local college.

The United Nations’s Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme prioritises help for survivors of torture and violence, women and children at risk and those in need of medical care.

The local authorities who participate in the scheme are given government funding for each refugee and as part of this must set up a care package which runs for a year.

This includes providing the families with local authority standard accommodation and basic furniture - including cooking and washing facilities.

Guidelines for the scheme also state that the refugees should be able to access English language classes within one month of arrival.

The Al Obaid family, who came to Glasgow on November 24 last year, say they lived without a working washing machine and with flooding issues.

We told yesterday about Al Hamza, 30, who worked in IT and accounts in Homs, Syria, and his family.

When the violence escalated and his city was destroyed, they fled to Jordan.

He came to the city with his wife, who does not want to be named, his daughters Mashael, who is now seven, and five-year-old Bashiyr and son Ayman who is 14-months-old.

He is disabled and also suffers from type 1 diabetes as does his eldest daughter and baby son.

When he arrived in the city he was recovering from a five hour surgery on his back which had been carried out just 10 days before.

The family was initially housed in a high flat in Knightswood which Al Hamza said he had to take “90 steps” to access.

Glasgow City Council found the family alternative accommodation four months later, in March.

Speaking in Arabic, through an interpreter, he told the Evening Times that his wife, who was in the early stages of pregnancy, tried to use the washing machine in the first flat but it was out of order.

Al Hamza, who is disabled, added: “Washing was piling up and the only option was to wash clothes in the bath.

“My wife spent hours bending down, scrubbing.”

She suffered a miscarriage, although the cause is not known.

Al Hamza’s wife showed us her scarred, raw hands.

The skin is not responding to treatment, she said.

Al Hamza said the family also went 11 days without a bath because of plumbing problems which saw dirty water from the kitchen leaking into the bathroom.

It is understood that Glasgow City Council records show that there were plumbing issues with the flat which lasted a couple of weeks.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an individual case.

“The Home Office reviewed our performance in relation to the Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme in July this year and was fully satisfied with the work we have done.

“We deal with any housing issues in relation to refugees quickly and efficiently and we will continue to listen to those who receive support to ensure we provide the best possible service to them.

“English language courses are organised through the Department of Work of Pensions as a condition of a refugee’s entitlement to benefits.

“Failure to attend at a language course would justify benefit sanctions being applied.

“Glasgow has a strong record in supporting asylum seekers and refugees and we will continue to play our part in providing shelter for those fleeing war and oppression around the world.”