New Scots Core Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 8 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow (Chair)
  • Maggie Lennon, Bridges Programmes
  • Phil Arnold, British Red Cross
  • Paul Matheson, Police Scotland
  • Emma McKean, Police Scotland
  • Jackie Walder, Scottish Government
  • Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Graham O’Neill, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Wafa Shaheen, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Eva Hanna, University of Glasgow (dialling in)
  • Cameron Heenan, COSLA (guest) (dialling in)
  • Gail Mungall, Scottish Refugee Council (guest)
  • Jewels Lang, Scottish refugee Council (guest)
  • Scott Preston, Scottish Refugee Council (guest)
  • Jenny Kehoe, Scottish Government (minutes)


  • Andy Morrison, COSLA
  • Emma McCarthy, British Red Cross
  • Gayle Findlay, COSLA
  • Stuart Cameron, Creative Scotland
  • Jacqui Hughes, DWP
  • Sarah Cox, Glasgow ESOL Forum
  • Ghizala Avan, Mental Health Foundation
  • Suzanne Ng, Police Scotland
  • Marion Gibbs, Scottish Government
  • Nick Parton, Scottish Government
  • Natalie Nixon, Scottish Government
  • Elodie Mignard Scottish Refugee Council
  • Ian McLellan, University of Strathclyde

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Alison welcomed everyone to the meeting and informed the group that Milica Milosevic has now left Creative Scotland and will be replaced at this group by Stuart Cameron, Creative Scotland’s Equalities and Diversity Officer. Unfortunately Stuart can’t be with us today, but we look forward to him joining us next time. She also introduced the guests joining us from SRC - Jewels Lang (Community Development Manager), Scott Preston (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer) and Gail Mungall (Senior Administrator on NSRIDP).

Alison also welcomed Cameron Heenan from COSLA who was attended to provide an update on the Adult Learning Strategy. Cameron is finishing up with COSLA next week.

New Scots Refugee Integration delivery project update

Jenny spoke to papers 1 and 2 and provided an update on the project covering all three workstreams. 

Of particular note:

  • in terms of providing additional funding into the sector and widening the impact of the project, Scottish Refugee Council has secured lottery funding, which will support some projects that could not be funded under the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project. This funding will run until December 2023
  • initial plans are underway for a New Scots conference later in the year. This is still in the early stages with both the venue and date still to be confirmed, but it is expected to be held in the autumn
  • Jenny provided an update on the two surveys being carried out through the project: one by ScotCen and the other by IPPR. 
  • she reminded everyone that the New Scots survey, which is part of the evaluation work being undertaken by ScotCen, has been circulated to stakeholders and is due to close in mid-July. This survey needs to be done in one sitting as it can’t be saved
  • the second survey is the survey of local authorities, which was commissioned by COSLA and is being carried out by IPPR. This is not yet live, but COSLA are hoping to get this out by the week commencing 27 June
  • in relation to the survey, there was some frustration by some in the group that New Scots is not more widely known and understood

More generally, there was a question about how to link on with other devolved governments and also a desire for more information of how refugees will be involved in the strategy development going forward.

New Scots Strategy 3

The group agreed that the work of the core group going forward will largely focus on the development of New Scots 3, rather than seeking to complete actions in the current strategy. It was noted that theme groups were struggling to meet, due to a range of pressures, and there was a risk of burnout in the sector.

The group agreed it would take learning from what has and hasn’t worked in New Scots 2 into New Scots 3. The new strategy would also be informed by the research from the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project.

Group members agreed that the strategy should continue to take a rights based approach. There was frustration about elements of the Nationality and Borders Act which go against the principle of integration from Day 1.

There was discussion around how to deliver New Scots and continue to deal with day to day work, while also being able to respond to the challenges of crisis situations.

Feedback from the morning strategy session

Alison outlined a brainstorming session on New Scots 3, which had taken place in the morning and covered the following topics:

  • format and communications
  • what are the realities
  • up for grabs
  • new landscape in Scotland
  • non-negotiables
  • refugee involvement 

There was discussion generated around this covering the following:

  • there is a lot to consider given the complex landscape. How are we to pull all of this together while keeping it accessible and high level? It also needs to be long-lasting with a focus on key principles rather than being too detailed
  • mid-levels links would be needed too
  • the morning discussion had been helpful and showed the importance of continued partnership in its broadest sense given it is a strategy for Scotland.
  • standards and legislation were also highlighted, with social citizenship front and centre. 
  • New Scots 3 should not get caught up in the complexity of different programmes/status, but should focus on the needs of those who are arriving or who are already here, and how can we address these
  • with Covid-19 and recent asylum policy changes our minds have been focused on specific issues. It is important to take a step back and do the ground work, as the strategy can fall apart if the groundwork is not there. Mitigation is key here
  • we need to be explicit about what can be done within the devolved competence of the Scottish Government. What might this look like, including funding
  • an issue with a rights based approach is that there is generally a lack of understanding around this. It needs to be practical

Summary of academic evidence submitted (paper 3)

Alison introduced a paper on academic evidence on New Scots and reminded the group that the researchers had been specifically asked to identify gaps. Key findings included:

  • there is little evidence to suggest that the strategy has exerted influence on other areas of policymaking where the needs of displaced migrants need to be considered specifically
  • while the strategy recognises language as a key barrier for integration, the strategy was not widely consulted on by ESOL practitioners and policymakers
  • there are limited specialist refugee employment services in Scotland, while existing services are oversubscribed and subject to time-limited funding. Enterprise and entrepreneurship in the migrant population are not reflected in current policy approaches
  • university scholarships for New Scots are limited in number. New Scots are facing a great challenge in terms of the recognition of prior qualifications and language proficiency.
  • changes to the Homeless Act 2003 have led to reductions in new refugee homelessness
  • asylum housing contractors do not consider, and are unaware of the need for safe and secure accommodation for SGBV victims and women who may be at risk of victimisation

Discussion generated around this paper covered:

  • Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA) and the importance of stakeholder engagement in these. However, it was also suggested that the biggest benefit of EQIAs is the mind-set underneath it
  • a number of Cabinet Secretaries have responsibility for different themes in New Scots
  • there was a report card on human rights in Scotland published today which is worth taking a look at. This has a number of specifics which relate to refugees and migrant communities
  • how do we capitalise on the response to Ukraine for all refugees
  • it would be good to consider longer term opportunities for learning


  • Alison to thank Dan and Savan for paper

Theory of Change

Alison spoke to this section which was shared as paper 4. 

Alison mentioned that this theory of change was developed through two workshops with the New Scots Core Group earlier this year and included representatives from the three lead partners: Scottish Government, COSLA, and Scottish Refugee Council as well as representatives from public services and third sector organisations and academics, facilitated by Matter of Focus.

The Theory of Change has been constructed using the Matter of Focus approach to understanding change. Two theory of change pathways have been developed: one for the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy itself, and one for the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project (NSRIDP).

Six headers are used:

  • what we do
  • who with
  • how they feel
  • what they learn and gain
  • what they do differently
  • what difference does this make

The Theory of Change for the New Scots Strategy highlights how the overall strategy aims to set out a shared approach to refugee integration in Scotland, contributing to positive impacts for refugees, people seeking asylum, and communities.

The Theory of change for the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project highlights how the NSRIDP funding is intended to generate innovation, learning and practice in refugee integration in Scotland, contributing to positive impact for refugees, people seeking asylum, and communities.

New Scots final report

Jenny spoke to this item highlighting that it is now being proposed that the final New Scots Strategy report is produced alongside the NSRIDP final report in order to incorporate findings from NSRIDP and that both are published at the end of March 2023.


  • Jenny and Natalie to work with the Steering Group to pull together a draft final reporting template for theme groups
  • this draft template will be shared with Core Group at the September meeting, at which point we will ask for any additions and/or amendments needed
  • the completed templates, together with the NSRIDP final report will form the basis for the New Scots final report

Emerging issues and updates

Afghan and Ukrainian resettlement

Wafa spoke on an updated version of the Humanitarian Protection Schemes in Scotland paper that was produced in September last year. This provides a useful summary of the schemes currently operating in Scotland.

Asylum - Nationality and Borders Act, New Plan for Immigration and Asylum Dispersal

Jackie spoke to this item and highlighted the key points, including new inadmissibility rules; differentiation of treatment depending on route of entry; age-assessment; and human trafficking. She noted that the Scottish Parliament had voted to withhold legislative consent on age assessment and trafficking, but that this had no binding effect on the UK Government. 

The Home Office is working on full asylum dispersal with a consultation focused on local authorities in parallel. The deadline for responses is 1 July. There are discussions in Scotland on the approach to full dispersal here. The Home Office is providing funding in 2022-23 for local authorities taking asylum dispersal, but it is not clear what will happen after that. 

The Group noted the UK Government’s Rwanda policy, whereby people could be sent to Rwanda to have their asylum claim decided. If claims were successful, people would be granted asylum in Rwanda rather than the UK. No transfers had yet taken place due to legal challenges. 

Refugee Festival Scotland

Gary reminded the group that the Refugee Festival Scotland 2022 launch event would be on 17 June. All core group should have received invites for this.

Adult Learning Strategy

Cameron reported that the Adult Learning Strategy was published on 10 May. The launch event is on 29 June. He also advised that one of the commitments within the Adult Learning Strategy is for there to be a full review of the ESOL Strategy, although so far there no timeframes or process have been provided for this.

The group confirmed its view of the need for a separate ESOL strategy. 

Future planning

Jenny advised that now that Natalie has joined the team there would be a bit more capacity to provide support to theme groups if this is wanted/needed. Jenny invited co-chairs to consider whether there might be any particular support that they’d like/need for their theme groups and to get in touch if so.

Regarding future presentations, in addition to those researchers previously discussed (Sarah Cox; Catrin Evans; and SRC and UoG research on older refugees), there was discussion around whether there were any other topics that the group wanted to hear about. There was discussion around:

  • the possibility of inviting a legal expert to discuss what can be done in Scotland on protection, with regards to devolved competencies
  • whether we could we invite the Home Office or Mears to come and talk to group about their plans and what they’re doing? Asylum accommodation is already being procured across Scotland
  • how can we mobilise New Scots learning for widening asylum dispersal
  • possibilities to mainstream refugee rights in equality mainstreaming

Date of next meeting

The group confirmed that while their preference going forward was for face-to-face meetings, we should also keep a hybrid option.

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