Language boost for refugees

Funding to help Syrian refugees settle in their communities.

Syrian refugees will be encouraged to share their cultures and practise English with their new neighbours through a pilot scheme aimed at helping them settle into Scottish communities.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Debate on Syrian Refugees, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance confirmed £85,000 funding for the new scheme which will build on the English language training all Syrian refugees have received.

The pilot project, which will be trialled in four local authority areas, will bring together refugees with members of their new communities, to practice their English and swap information about their different cultures.

Volunteers will be able to help refugees learn more about local life by involving them in walking groups, coffee mornings, choirs or through sports activities.

Ms Constance said:

“Speaking with the refugees I met last week – and with others over the last few months - what has struck me is the very real challenges of trying to settle into a new place and to actually navigate through services, especially when faced with language barriers.

“This new pilot will help Syrian refugees practice their English and get to know more about the areas that they have moved to by spending time with other people living within their local communities.

“We have been inundated with offers of support from the public since we launched our Scotland Welcomes Refugees website last year and I am pleased that we can take advantage of these kind offers and get people volunteering locally.

“Many of the refugees owned their own businesses or were teachers before war and terrorism forced them to flee Syria. And I hope this project will also allow them to share their skills and talents to help strengthen and diversify our communities.

“With more than 1,000 Syrian refugees now settled in Scotland, it is clear we are committed to taking a fair and proportionate share of the total number of refugees coming to the UK and we will continue to do so.

“And I am absolutely committed to doing all I can to work closely with local authorities and the third sector to tackle any barriers refugees face and help the Syrian people find the peace and safety they need to rebuild their lives in Scotland.”

Wafa Shaheen, Head of Refugee Integration Services, Scottish Refugee Council said:

“We know that refugees arriving in Scotland really want to meet and build friendships with local Scots as well as improve and practise the English that they learn in the classroom. This new pilot project helps them do that.

“Refugees will learn how Scots actually speak in their local area from their ‘language pal’ who will help them find out more about their local community and Scotland. But it is also about refugees sharing their own skills and expertise with Scots showing that integration is not just one-way but that these New Scots have much to offer their new communities.”

Notes to editors

More information about the areas the pilot will work in, will be available in due course.

The funding is part of the £1 million allocated to support Syrian refugees in Scotland.


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