New Scots Core Group minutes: March 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 12 March 2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow (Chair) (AP)
  • Karen McIntyre, Bridges Programmes (KM)
  • Claire Donaghey, Glasgow Clyde College (CD)
  • Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council (GC)
  • Wafa Shaheen, Scottish Refugee Council (WS)
  • Emma McCarthy, British Red Cross (online) (EM)
  • Gayle Findlay, COSLA (online) (GF)
  • Ghizala Avan, Mental Health Foundation (online) (GA)
  • Madhi Saki, Mental Health Foundation (online) (MS)
  • Paul Matheson, Police Scotland (online) (PM)
  • Elodie Mignard, Scottish Refugee Council (online) (EM)
  • Catherine Brown, Scottish Government (online) (CB)
  • Jenny Kehoe, Scottish Government (online) (JK)
  • Billy McKenzie, Scottish Government (online) (BM)
  • Mandy Watts, Scottish Government (online) (MW)
  • Natalie Nixon, Scottish Government (online; minutes)


  • Phil Arnold, British Red Cross
  • Andrew Morrison, COSLA
  • Stuart Cameron, Creative Scotland
  • Jacqui Hughes, Department for Work and Pensions
  • Steven Fraser, Police Scotland
  • Eva Hanna, University of Glasgow

Items and actions


AP welcomed everyone in the meeting and noted that MW is now attending Core Group in her new capacity as Refugee Integration and Resettlement Team Leader at Scottish Government, having moved over from her work on Ukraine. She will continue to work on Afghan resettlement and is now also managing and working with JK on New Scots policy.

With MW having now moved over, CB from Scottish Government’s Ukraine Resettlement team will be joining us today and going forward to keep us updated on that work. CB has joined us previously, so many of you will know her already.

AP also noted that SF has taken over as the key asylum and refugee contact at Police Scotland. This forms part of his role, as he also has responsibility for race and religion, interpreting and translation and community advisors. Unfortunately Steven cannot join us today.

Minutes / action points from meeting on 22 November

Members approved the minutes as an accurate record of the previous meeting on 22 November 2023.

AP mentioned an action from the previous meeting which was to look to invite the four Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)-funded across Scotland to provide an overview of the work of their projects. This has been put on hold to make enough time for discussion around the New Scots delivery plan, which will come under item 5 and will be revisited later in the year.

Final report update

NN provided an update on the final report for the second iteration of the New Scots Strategy. We have received further contributions and the report is now nearing completion, with just a few items still outstanding. Once we receive these and the final amendments have been made, the report will be reviewed by Steering Group. The finalised report will then be shared with Core Group.

New Scots Refugee Integration delivery project update

AP invited JK to provide an overview of the project.

JK updated on the key activity under the project since the last meeting in November, including that AMIF funding ended at the end of December 2023 and wrapped up in January. She reflected on some of the other key achievements of the project, including the published reports and also mentioned that AMIF funding was used to support those lived experience engagement events which took place before 31 December (with funding from Scottish Government supporting those held in January and February).

AP mentioned that the team at university of Glasgow (UoG) are completing the report on the work they carried out looking at resettlement in Argyll and Bute and that this will tie into the final chapter of the handbook that the UoG team are producing. She noted that this handbook will be a key text for students working in this area for many years to come.

Partners thanked JK for her hard work around the project.

New Scots 3

AP invited JK to discuss where we are now with third iteration of the strategy and the delivery plan.

JK reminded the group that the five engagement events for sector professionals and refugee leaders had taken place just before the November meeting of this group. Since then, Hugh, Will and Esa worked on analysis of the data from this engagement which then fed in to the strategy drafting work which took place in January and February.

The New Scots Leadership Board met on 20 February to discuss the draft strategy, ahead of it being shared with COSLA Leaders in February. The strategy document will be a web publication and will publish on 28 March. All three partners will announce the launch of the strategy on their own websites.

Some discussion followed around the lived experience engagement and how this would feed into the work to refresh the strategy. JK mentioned that these engagement events were more around tying into the delivery plan, as initial communications and consultation showed that people were most interested in the helping to shape the actions, rather than the overarching principles. JK also mentioned that the numbers of people engaging were higher this time that for the previous iterations of the strategy.

The intention is to produce a summary version of the strategy, as well as translations into some of the key refugee community languages. GC confirmed that SRC are considering which languages this should be. He also highlighted that with the community consultations, people were able to response in their own languages.

JK discussed the second paper that was shared with the group ahead of the meeting. This highlighted a few key points around inputs into the strategy and a timeline for delivery. Some of the key inputs still to take place are the workshop on lived experience involvement in New Scots governance (taking place this week) and a workshop on statelessness, planned for April.

JK mentioned that everyone is working to tight timescales to allow the final strategy to be sent through clearance processes. On the Delivery Plan, she mentioned:

that partners are looking to review the delivery plan annually to keep actions under review
the development of governance plans around how best to involve lived experience throughout the strategy, with the lived experience workshop tying into this.

Rather than being group by themes (as was the case for the first and second iterations of the strategy), the actions within the delivery plan will be grouped as they relate to the six overarching outcomes within the strategy, to reflect that there are many areas of cross-cutting work.

Some discussion followed around this including some agreement from members of Core Group that it would be good to be involved in discussions on the Delivery Plan.

A point was raised to highlight that there will likely be a lot of overlap between the six outcomes so it would be good to create spaces for collaborative working. AP agreed saying that this approach will require different governance structures and this will be part of the discussions over the next period, including with refugee leaders.

GC provided an update on the community consultations which took place in February. Across Scotland there were around 60 different lived experience events with different refugee populations. People were asked to consider what local and national actions were needed, as well as what their top priority action would be. Different communities wanted different things from the delivery plan. The analysis of these events is now underway.

On lived experience within the strategy governance GC mentioned that Steering Group members would be taking part in a session with refugee leaders 14 March to hear views on how people with lived experience can be meaningfully involved in the strategy going forward.

GC highlighted that the strategy will now include statelessness and that although not all people who are stateless are refugees, there are intersects. There will be a workshop, currently planned for April, with the European Network on Statelessness to increase our understanding of who this affects in Scotland and what support might be needed. GC confirmed that core group members will be invited to that.

AP noted that, in drafting the delivery plan, we will look at the core issues that came out of the engagement events and the research and consider how to address these by feeding them into actions in the delivery plan. She confirmed that in line with the timescales shared, the May meeting of this group will focus on the delivery plan to give this group the opportunity to input ahead of  political sign-off and publication.

AP mentioned that the University of Glasgow are offering to fund event a launch event for the strategy and are currently exploring how to fund people to attend the event from across Scotland. This is a substantial offer that came through Universities of Sanctuary. AP also noted partners gratitude to the University’s Vice Principal for this offer.

Action: JK to circulate strategy to Core Group once published.

Emerging issues and updates

Ukraine Resettlement

CB Ukraine provided a high-level update on the months since the last meeting in November. Some of the main updates discussed included work around visas, move on accommodation and lived experience engagement.

February marked two years since the illegal invasion of Ukraine. This was marked by commemorative events with Scottish Government Ministers attending some of these events.

AP mentioned that the third iteration of the New Scots strategy will include all forced migrants and that it will be good to have this in place for future crises.

Asylum Dispersal, unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), Afghan Resettlement ( ARAP/ACRS and UKRS)

GF had another appointment so was unable to update at this meeting.

Action: At the next meeting, GF will provide an update.

Any other business

We will be looking to have the next Core Group meeting in early May. Natalie will be in touch with the details of this in the next few weeks.

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