ALL of us will have spent a lot of time thinking about the dreadful situation unfolding right now in Ukraine.

This isn't the first time that there has been conflict in Europe since the second world war, it's not even the first this century

But it is the first time in over seven decades that conflict has caused a humanitarian crisis on the scale we're seeing today.

Responding to a refugee crisis requires a quick and effective response and the First Minister has already pledged that Scotland could take 3000 Ukrainian refugees immediately but those looking to seek refuge in the UK will have to go through the lengthy and time-consuming visa and matching process.

The UK Government has admitted that it is still likely to be another two weeks before people can reach our shores.

The UK can and should be doing more to help people in desperate need. This isn't a time for cynical immigration policymaking, it's a time for every country to step up and offer to help in every possible way.

Countries across Europe, including Ireland are waiving visas for Ukrainians and the Home Office should follow suit – they should put people first and worry about the paperwork later, allowing those fleeing war to get to safety and sanctuary immediately, not spend weeks caught up in UK Government bureaucracy and red tape.

In the usual spirit of Clackmannanshire, local people have already rolled their sleeves up to get involved in helping in any way they can.

A number of organisations in our local area, like the Wimpy Park Group in Alloa, were quick off the mark to collect donations of items needed to take to refugees fleeing Ukraine, including painkillers, blankets, torches, and canned foods.

The response has been tremendous with confirmation that following the generosity of local people, further donations are not required at this time.

For people who would still like to make a cash donation, you can do so at

Last week. was Scottish National Apprenticeship week and it was great to pay a visit to Polly's Pantry at Aberdona to discuss how apprenticeships have supported their business and offered local young people a training opportunity.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of progressing the career prospects of people all across Scotland, providing opportunities to learn essential skills and practical abilities.

This is especially important for addressing gaps in our labour market and with around 300 apprenticeships in Clackmannanshire each year, we are seeing many young people having their talents honed through this method.

On Saturday, I was delighted to pop into the Hawkhill Centre to visit a project run by Cashback for Communities and Youth Scotland, which included local youth organisation Connect.

We know that evidence shows that youth work can have a significant impact on improving prospects for young people as well as having a positive effect on our local communities.

It was really good to hear about some of the fantastic youth work that has been going on locally thanks to funding and support from the Cashback for Communities programme.