New Scots Core Group minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 22 November 2023

Attendees and apologies

Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow (Chair)
Phil Arnold, British Red Cross
Claire Donaghey, Glasgow Clyde College (online)
Gayle Findlay, COSLA
Jenny Kehoe, Scottish Government
Paul Matheson, Police Scotland (online)
Billy McKenzie, Scottish Government (online)
Emma McCarthy, British Red Cross
Karen McIntyre, Bridges Programmes (online)
Elodie Mignard, Scottish Refugee Council (online)
Madhi Saki, Mental Health Foundation (online)
Wafa Shaheen, Scottish Refugee Council
Mandy Watts, Scottish Government (online)
Natalie Nixon, Scottish Government (minutes)


Aileen Harding, Scottish Government (online)


Ghizala Avan, Mental Health Foundation
Stuart Cameron, Creative Scotland
Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council
Jacqui Hughes, Department for Work and Pensions
Emma McKean, Police Scotland
Andrew Morrison, COSLA
Graham O'Neill, Scottish Refugee Council
Eva Hanna, University of Glasgow

Items and actions


AP started the meeting with a round of introductions and welcomed CD who was joining the meeting for the first time. CD works as the Assistant Principal for Access & Continuing Learning at Glasgow Clyde College, as well as chairing the ESOL Access Steering Group in Glasgow and she will be joining the New Scots Core Group to take over the role previously held by her colleagues at the college. AH joined to discuss item 8 on the Building a New Scotland: Migration after Independence paper.

Minutes and action points from the meeting on 13 September 2023

Members approved the minutes of the previous meeting on 13 September.

AP thanked those members who sent through additional feedback on the draft strategy document following the previous meeting. This was used to inform the abridged draft that was shared with COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Board on 20 October, where it was approved.

Action: Seek to invite the four AMIF-funded across Scotland to provide an overview of the work of their projects at the next meeting.

Final Report update

AP invited NN to provide an update on work on the final report for the second New Scots refugee integration strategy. NN confirmed that there have been no further updates since JK discussed this item at the September meeting, that we are still waiting to receive some final contributions and that the report will be finalised once all input has been received. Once completed, the report will be shared with Core Group.

New Scots Refugee Integration delivery project update

JK provided an overview of some of the work that has taken place under the project since the last meeting, including efforts to support the remaining funded projects to finalise their reporting, the publication of the commissioned research into the role of local authorities in refugee integration in Scotland and the public polling work commissioned by SRC.

We had hoped to have an update from Jewels Lang at this meeting on the work being done under the Supporting New Scots fund, which provided over £500,000 to projects delivering ESOL and employability for refugees. These projects started in April with most wrapping up this week. However, at the last minute, Jewels was unfortunately no longer able to join us.

Action: NN to add Supporting New Scots item to next Core Group agenda

AP provided an update on the work carried out by the University of Glasgow as part of the AMIF extension, including an evaluation of the resettlement scheme for people from Ukraine for Argyll and Bute Council and report and on the ‘Handbook of Integration with Refugees: global learnings from Scotland’, which is scheduled to publish in August 2024.

New Scots 3 

AP informed the group that the draft of the refreshed strategy had been shared with the COSLA Community Wellbeing Board on 20 October.

JK gave an update on the five professional engagement events that were held this month. These events were well attended and asked attendees to discuss the vision, principles and outcomes, as well as the questions around the actions needed for the delivery plan. The analysis of the responses around the vision, principles and outcomes (which will feed into the overarching strategy) should be done by December, with the section for the delivery plan coming later.

The plan is for the strategy to be published in March and the delivery plan in June. As well as reflecting the engagement feedback, there are also internal discussions within both Scottish Government and through local authorities which will tie in. This will help to ensure there are meaningful links with other policy areas and strategies.

There was acknowledgement that some areas such as housing and ESOL face long-term challenges which are wider than those just affecting refugees and people seeking asylum, and that the New Scots strategy will not have the resources needed to resolve these issues single handedly. Where they already exist, it will be important to link in with existing structures set up to tackle these. Discussions touched on how risks will be reflected, as well as how learning from previous campaigning success (e.g. around the right to vote) can be reflected and the power of having a joint voice.

Action: CD to share Glasgow City Council report with BM

JK confirmed that we will be looking to ensure that there is lived experience involvement in the governance of the strategy and work will be done to consider the best way to do this. MS flagged that Mental Health Foundation, as part of their Elevate programme, is looking at how to bring people with lived experience around the table with policy makers. 

AP summarised that the actions in the delivery plan need to be flexible and that we need to ensure that the extensive and valuable voices throughout Scotland are involved.

New Scots 3 – Lived experience engagement 

JK highlighted that SRC ran briefing sessions for 35 community leaders ahead of their attendance at the professional engagement events in November. The aim is for these leaders to then hold lived experience engagement events in their communities, which can be tailored according to the needs of communities. Following feedback from the leaders, these sessions will focus on discussion around the tangible actions needed to implement the third strategy and the feedback will feed into the development of the delivery plan. Some funding is available to enable these events to happen and SRC is coordinating this on behalf of the partnership. So far 15 lived experience events have been confirmed and JK asked group to let her and/or Jewels Lang know if they hear of anyone who wants to put on an event. 

JK confirmed that the analysis of the feedback from these events will be published alongside the delivery plan.

UNHCR Global Compact for refugees

BM spoke about the Global Refugee Forum (GRF) which is organised by UNHCR and at which organisations are encouraged to make pledges in support of the objectives of the GRF. SG will be attending the GRF at official level as part of the UKG delegation and submitting a pledge on behalf of New Scots partners. This pledge affirms our commitment to update the New Scots refugee integration strategy. 

AP mentioned that individual organisations can make pledges too and encouraged group members to check the website.

PA mentioned that BRC are involved and that there’s a lot of work internationally around family reunion and multilateral pledges around this. 

Action: PA to share details with BM about BRC’s involvement in multilateral pledges on family reunion.

Building a New Scotland: Migration to Scotland after independence paper

AH gave an overview of the Building a New Scotland: Migration to Scotland After Independence paper which was published on 3 November and the key aspects relating to asylum and refugee integration. 

The paper sets out the high level direction SG would take in an independent Scotland and is intended to be accessible to those who don’t have in depth knowledge of the subject. The paper includes links to 1951 refugee convention, and highlights the aim for an independent Scotland be a good global citizen that respects international law. It looks at what has been done so far in Scotland to move in a different direction, including mentioning the New Scots strategy.

Emerging issues and updates

Ukraine resettlement

MW provided an update on this, including work around the impending move on and re-entry policies, as well as the fourth stakeholder reference meeting, which focused on visa concerns.

Afghan Resettlement (ARAP/ACRS) and UKRS

GF provided an update on this, confirming that numbers of those arriving through UKRS remain steady. She confirmed that MOD are making arrangements for Afghan families to be placed on a number of local authorities using service family accommodation (SFA), with local authorities asked to provide wrap-around support. Where this is not possible, Mears should provide this. COSLA are coordinating a single Scottish response for the UK Government consultation with local authorities on safe and legal routes.

Asylum Dispersal and UASC

GF provided an update on this, including on asylum hotels in Scotland, the streamlined asylum processing (SAP) and UASC.  On the latter, awaiting the result of the High Court judgement on the National Transfer Rota lodged by Kent County Council.

Any other business 

The First Minister announced that Scotland is ready to accept Palestinian refugees if required. If relevant, this will be added to future agendas.

AP informed the group, that JW will be taking early retirement on 15 December and noted the significant contribution she has made to work in this area since taking up her role in October 2013.

JK confirmed that NN will be in touch with the first meeting of the new year in the next few weeks. 

AP closed the meeting by noting that it has been a very hard year with numerous challenges, thanking everyone for their continued hard work and acknowledging the great determination that this has involved.

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