Scottish Connections (diaspora) work: qualitative research

Reports on findings from qualitative research looking at what successful a diaspora engagement strategy should consider and include. Provides a synthesis of existing evidence and an analysis of data from interviews and focus groups with key diaspora stakeholders.

8. Recommendations

In this section, we make a series of recommendations, arising from both our case studies and the individual interviews we have conducted. Our recommendations are listed below and are grouped by category. Our categories are Picturing and Understanding the Diaspora, Engaging the Diaspora, Supporting and Recognising the Diaspora and Diaspora Initiatives. Relative timescales and resource allocations for each recommendation should be considered within the Scottish Government.

Picturing and Understanding the Diaspora

1. Diaspora engagement has increasingly been recognised in Scotland as an important area of policy. Agreeing such a policy is now a matter of greater urgency.

2. A clear definition of the diaspora should be an agreed aspect of any policy. This should cover all categorisations and geographical locations.

3. The Scottish Government should consider making a statement about the importance of the Scottish diaspora to Scotland, as Mary Robinson did in Ireland in 1995. This should include a firm declaration vis-a-vis the relationship between the diaspora and the homeland.

4. All diaspora engagement policies must be inclusive. Ireland represents a clear leader in this area, by reaching out to previously under-represented groups such as black and mixed-race Irish and the LGBTQI community and introducing the St Brigid's Day celebrations for women. Scotland should see inclusion and diversity as core to any diaspora engagement.

5. The diaspora can play a significant role in maintaining aspects of homeland culture and language. Scottish diaspora engagement should have a much stronger cultural, as well as economic, focus.

6. The country should embrace historical Scottish imagery, given its worldwide marketability and use it to the country's advantage. Scotland should also recognise that there are many modern designers who are giving a new 'twist' to kilt designs, for example, so marketing can embrace both the traditional and the contemporary.

Engaging the Diaspora

7. A key issue for any diaspora engagement programme to be effective is the availability of resources. Investment in diaspora engagement should be considered as a priority and consultative discussions be held around resourcing any diaspora strategy. We have tried to identify resource implications for recommendations where possible.

8. Responsibility for diaspora engagement and strategy requires a visible and obvious presence within the Scottish Government infrastructure, one which the diaspora can immediately recognise and connect with.

9. The requirement for a significant and easily accessible web presence, serving as a 'gateway' for people seeking information about Scotland and Scottish Government diaspora policy should be a priority.

10. The Scottish Government should create a digital database of Scottish diaspora organisations and this directory could be used to target different elements of diaspora engagement and encourage awareness of the depth and spread of the diaspora.

11. Wales is a country which is beginning to develop digital platforms. The Scottish Government should continue to liaise with the other devolved administrations within the UK and exchange ideas and information.

12. There is a growing use of social media to allow diaspora members to engage with each other, and the growth of digital platforms to provide databases on the diaspora and diaspora organisations. Scotland should explore the viability of directly connecting with the diaspora across the full range of social media platforms. This would increase both awareness and connectivity with and between Scotland and the diaspora as a whole.

13. There are representative bodies which bring together diaspora organisations and clan societies in places like North America and Australasia, as well as a network of alumni bodies. The Scottish Government should make use of these bodies as part of any diaspora engagement especially in areas such as information dissemination.

14. The Scottish Government should assist diaspora bodies with the organic development of social connections within the diaspora, possibly including 'voluntary ambassadors' such as used by Flanders. We are not convinced, however, by the Flanders decision to outsource its diaspora engagement to a non-governmental body.

15. Alumni associations and Scottish Universities and Colleges have an important role to play in any future diaspora strategy and engagement policy given their connections with Scottish graduates abroad, and potential future students. They should be supported in their engagement with the alumni diaspora, especially in regard to international students, who are not Scottish but are graduates of a Scottish university.

16. Engaging young people within the diaspora and connecting them firmly with, and to, Scotland should be recognised as being at the heart of Scotland's diaspora engagement strategy.

17. As part of a focus on youth, the Government may wish to encourage and support traditional diaspora organisations to broaden their membership, through appointing Youth Officers, establishing scholarships and youth exchanges, as some have already done. The greater use of contemporary performers at Tartan Week, and similar events, should be encouraged.

Supporting and Recognising the Diaspora

18. Return migration is becoming significant in a number of countries. In Scotland, returners may help to counter the challenges posed by a small population growth and an ageing population. Irish voluntary bodies such as Safe Home Ireland and Crosscare again provide examples of assisting returners to settle. Scotland should look to encouraging and supporting members of the diaspora who wish to return.

19. Ireland has a Presidential Distinguished Service Award to recognise the contribution of individual diaspora members. We believe that Scotland should consider a similar initiative.

Diaspora Initiatives

20. Scotland has a limited number of international offices, including eight Scottish Affairs offices and 30 SDI offices, as well as 11 Trade and Investment Envoys. Scotland should develop a greater global presence, looking to Ireland and Flanders as examples, this would include additional staffed locations and other initiatives such as our suggestion of volunteer ambassadors. The SG may wish to consider utilising combined offices/resource locations.

21. The contributions of individuals within the GlobalScot network were considered varied and changeable. The expectations of membership of the network and what is sought in terms of added value of/from individuals needs to be clearer when they are recruited.

22. The expansion of organisations such as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network internationally should be supported.

23. The establishment of a network of Scottish Cultural Envoys around the world, similar to the GlobalScot network, should be pursued.

24. We need to acknowledge the importance of what has been described as 'cultural tourism' and the desire by visitors to explore aspects of Scottish film, literature and cultural events. The Edinburgh Festival is internationally known but other festivals and events may need greater publicity. Significant events such as the development of the V and A in Dundee or the reopening of the Burrell Collection should be publicised widely through the diaspora to encourage visits to Scotland.

25. Scotland should explore assisting access to BBC Scotland and BBC Alba channels by the diaspora.

26. Diaspora tourism is increasingly important economically and should be developed. Different elements of the diaspora have different priorities and so campaigns aimed at expanding diaspora tourism need to be targeted across different demographics.

27. Scotland has held two Homecoming events, with some local events in places like Shetland. Ireland is contemplating a second Gathering. Scotland should consider leading on another Homecoming event.

28. Genealogical research is important to the diaspora in their search for their 'roots'. In Scotland, the Scotland's People website is a valuable resource. Voluntary bodies similar to Ireland Reaching Out should be encouraged, or even funded, to assist family historians.

29. Significant consideration should be given to the establishment of a Scottish based coordinating, or umbrella organisation, which could provide direction, links and oversight of all elements recommended above.



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