New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018 to 2022: evaluation

Findings from an independent evaluation of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-2022. The evaluation draws on quantitative and qualitative research with stakeholder organisations, refugees & people seeking asylum in order to understand the impacts of the strategy.

5. Conclusions

There was consensus amongst research participants that the Strategy has made a positive impact overall, and has made considerable progress in relation to its main outcomes. Due to the complexity and multifactorial nature of the issues that are related to integration, it is to be expected that a number of difficulties and challenges were also cited. Chief among these were the lack of funding to support the implementation of the Strategy, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on implementation and the restrictions associated with asylum and immigration being a reserved policy matter. In such an environment, it also has to be acknowledged that it is far from straightforward to determine the influence of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy on all activities related to refugee integration, particularly those occurring at a local level.

It was noted by stakeholder interviewees and survey respondents that incremental progress in terms of refugee integration in Scotland has been made through each iteration of the the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy; the first Strategy predominantly focused on progressing integration work in Glasgow whereas the second Strategy encompassed integration work in other areas too. There is a clear willingness to continue this progress with the next iteration of the Strategy, due to be launched in early 2024. Stakeholder organisations, refugees and people seeking asylum, would like to see a greater focus in the next iteration of the Strategy on expanding integration progress across all areas of Scotland. To achieve this, existing integration work by local and national government and third sector and voluntary organisations with host communities and the general public, needs to be supported to continue, alongside the development of new work. There was a view that refugees, people seeking asylum, host communities and the general public have not been engaged sufficiently in the development and implementation of the Strategy. This engagement was perceived to be critical in ensuring that refugees and people seeking asylum are welcomed and supported in Scotland.

Whilst acknowledging that the Scottish Government does not have full control of all of the legislative and policy levers that affect decisions about integration policy, it was felt the next Strategy should focus on what more can be achieved within currently devolved powers. This would include focusing on improving investment in, and access to, consistent, coordinated and high quality services, support and information sources across all geographic and policy areas, such as ESOL support, housing, employment and education.

The third iteration of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy should take into consideration:

  • Additional funding and resourcing to be an intrinsic part of the implementation of the Strategy
  • Continued and longer-term funding of organisations and projects working to support refugee integration to enable equitable access and service provision in different geographical areas, and for those entering Scotland through different settlement pathways.
  • If necessary, underpinning the Strategy with legislation to ensure that the rights and entitlements of refugees and people seeking asylum are fully supported in Scotland
  • The need to support greater awareness of, and wider engagement with, the Strategy across the Scottish Government, refugees and people seeking asylum, third sector organisations, community groups and among the general public across all areas of Scotland. There should be further consideration of how the Scottish Government can better use its devolved powers to support refugees and people seeking asylum to begin to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive.
  • A focus on measurable outcomes, with a monitoring and evaluation structure implemented from the outset, as the third Strategy is developed and rolled out.

Finally, it is worth acknowledging that the Strategy will not operate in a vacuum, and there are limitations to what it may be expected to achieve. It was emphasised that the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy rightly set a welcoming tone for refugees and people seeking asylum, yet experiences of racism were still cited. This does not mean that the current or third iteration of the Strategy would be wrong to be framed in such a way, more that wider society itself has a role in ensuring that its outcomes are met. It also makes clear that integration is very much a two-way process, and work must be conducted with host communities in order that refugees and people seeking asylum feel as welcomed and accepted as possible.



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