New Scots Core Group minutes: October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 4 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow (Chair)
  • Stuart Cameron, Creative Scotland
  • Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Gayle Findlay, COSLA
  • Maggie Lennon, Bridges Programmes
  • Paul Matheson, Police Scotland
  • Elodie Mignard, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Emma McKean, Police Scotland
  • Wafa Shaheen, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Jackie Walder, Scottish Government
  • Jenny Kehoe, Scottish Government
  • Nick Parton, Scottish Government
  • Billy McKenzie, Scottish Government
  • Miriam Craven, Scottish Government
  • Natalie Nixon, Scottish Government (minutes)


  • Phil Arnold, British Red Cross
  • Ian McLellan, University of Strathclyde
  • Andrew Morrison, COSLA
  • Sarah Cox, Glasgow ESOL Forum
  • Eva Hanna, University of Glasgow
  • Ghizala Avan, Mental Health Foundation
  • Mahdi Saki, Mental Health Foundation
  • Suzanne Ng, Police Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Alison welcomed everyone to the meeting, including Miriam, who was attending to update on resettlement of displaced people from Ukraine. 

Minutes/action points from meeting on 08 June 2022

Alison invited core group to raise any issues with the minutes from 8 June meeting. The group was content with the minutes as they stood with no issues raised. 

New Scots Refugee Integration delivery project update

Workstreams 1 and 2 update

Jenny spoke to paper 2 which provided an update on workstreams 1 and 2. These workstreams focus on spreading good practice and supporting innovation, and while the £2.8 million grant fund is the largest element, the workstreams also include a variety of other activities.

The funded projects are continuing to run until November of this year. Each project has a dedicated support officer from SG, COSLA or SRC.

Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) approached the National Lottery Communities Fund and was successful in securing funding for smaller refugee community organisations who applied for the AMIF grant fund and passed the assessment but didn’t manage to secure funding. The allocation of funding took a participative approach involving refugee representatives being brought into access bids.

Jenny provided an update on the learning exchanges, with the most recent one being on volunteering opportunities for New Scots, mentioning that there was good feedback on the back of this. 

With regards to Storytelling, Jenny mentioned that Chris is currently busy with this work. The media awards went ahead during Refugee Festival Scotland and were successful.

Refugee Festival Scotland (RFS) has also been funded under these workstreams in 2021 and 2022. This year’s RFS ran from 17-26 June and Gary will provide an update on this year’s event later in the agenda.

Workstream 3 update

Alison spoke to paper 3 which provided an update on Workstream 3.

The work done for workstream 3 aims to develop the evidence base on the strategy and identify any gaps. This is building on work done by Helia, who produced an evidence bank on refugee integration during her internship with the Scottish Government. It has included a peer-reviewed literature review and work by two MPhil students who are looking at ESOL and interpretation. 

Alison highlighted the research that has been underway with COSLA who have commissioned IPPR to look at Local Authorities’ experience of delivering humanitarian protection programmes and facilitating refugee integration. The survey has so far (as of 29 September) been completed by 100 respondents with some others choosing to opt for interviews instead. 

SRC have commissioned action research from Scottish Community Development Centre focusing on the development of community organisation capacity to support refugees. SRC are also commissioning public polling looking at both experience of refugee integration and also public attitudes. SG are leading work on evaluation of New Scots and have commissioned ScotCen, who have now completed their interviews and workshops. This work also includes evidence gathered through interviews with the funded projects.

Feedback from the Evidence in Progress Workshop

Alison fed back on the Evidence in progress workshop which took place at the COSLA office in Edinburgh on 23 August. This event was an opportunity for partners to present their work to stakeholders and was positively received.

In the afternoon, there was a Ketso table session to consider questions around the current landscape. Areas discussed included resources, ESOL provision, arrival information, housing and clarity about roles, particularly around reserved and devolved policy. 

There was some discussion around this:

  • the group found the MPhil student presentations on ESOL and interpretation really useful
  • Alison highlighted that the research fills a gap in that the ESOL research is from the perspective of an Arabic speaker and the interpretation research from the perspective of an interpreter
  • Maggie highlighted the need for a cross-sectoral approach and asked whether employability and welfare were mentioned at the evidence gathering session
  • discussion at the evidence session highlighted there was confusion around what is possible in the context of reserved and devolved matters, including what is possible for the Scottish Government
  • importance of understanding what the Scottish Government can mitigate and what it can’t


  • Alison to forward on paper on employability to Maggie
  • Alison to send on Ketso paper which looks at perceived barriers as a result of reserved responsibilities

New Scots Conference

Gary spoke to this item. He informed the group of the details so far including that the date for the New Scots Conference is Friday 11 November at Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. 

The conference has three purposes: to celebrate the New Scots Strategy with particular focus on the funded projects; to highlight impact and successes; and to have the first external discussion on what goes into the next strategy in 2023. This will be a real opportunity for a variety of organisations from the third sector and communities to come together.

The ‘save the date’ for this went out on 3 October.

New Scots strategy 3

Alison opened this item stating that, given the constraints on delivery of New Scots 2 as a result of Covid, the main focus would be on building up to New Scots 3. We need to make sure that NS3 is resilient and robust enough, and the focus at the meeting was on the principles and approach, rather than specific actions. In order to consider how to make this work, Jenny and Jackie put together a timeline paper (paper 5), based on previous discussion about publishing NS3 on World Refugee Day (20 June).

Jenny spoke to both the timeline paper (paper 5) and the strategy paper (paper 6). She highlighted challenges around the timeline, especially around reporting on NS2, and undertaking an engagement process for NS3

The strategy paper (paper 6) looks at inputs to the strategy. As well as the feedback from engagement, this encompasses the outputs from NSRIDP, including the research pieces from the University of Glasgow and COSLA, the action research, toolkits, public polling and the information captured from the conference in November.

Alison commented that she didn’t want to focus too much on the date of launch and would rather ensure that NS3 is robust.

On engagement, the discussion was as follows:

  • the group agreed that lived experience is non-negotiable. This includes refugee communities and also stakeholders
  • given the scale of change in landscape since NS2, it would be interesting to hear from local authorities to see what opportunities we have to engage through them
  • for NS2, there was funding to run engagement events with refugees across country, and this will be needed again
  • it is important to set clear questions to help with the analysis process
  • capacity is an issue for many, which is unlikely to change soon. Is there anyone else we work with who might be able to facilitate and maybe existing forums
  • Miriam highlighted analytical work in relation to Ukraine that could feed in
  • lived experience feedback for NS2 was very rich. It would be good to be able to disaggregate this data by who it’s from: those from refugee backgrounds; those active in supporting refugees; and supporters of refugee rights
  •  Jackie mentioned that there will be more support this time from colleagues who are analysts, so should have more capacity to build this in
  • with events, sometimes it is better for the event itself to a social event for integration with evidence capture as secondary to this. There was some agreement that this was a good approach
  • some groups were consulted 5 years ago. It will be important to acknowledge their previous support and set out what has happened since the last engagement
  • it will be important to ensure all different groups are included in the engagement process, such as asylum seekers, Ukrainians, Afghans, people accommodated in hotels and community hosts

The group agreed that the launch date of New Scots should be towards the end of 2023 to build in sufficient time for engagement and to make best use of all the evidence being gathered

Action: Jackie and Jenny to revise the timeline in line with the above discussion.

Regarding the structure of the next strategy, the discussion was as follows:

  • there was broad agreement that the group like the indicators of integration and links to human rights
  • it will be important to consider additional themes, but in doing that, we also need to think about what is potentially already covered elsewhere (don’t want to duplicate), what’s useful/appropriate and also to be mindful of existing pressures. Mention of digital inclusion and UASC, although recognition that on the latter of these, there is a lot already in place
  • poverty is another area that should be included, particularly on the impact on people of working or not working; benefits, which may not have kept pace with inflation. Being able to capture the urban/rural differences in this area is important and areas with less experience of integration
  • asylum seekers are allowed to work in low paid occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, but the impacts of this are not clear, and support organisations advise against doing so unless jobs are well paid. This has a read across to destitution issues
  • there was some feeling that the themed groups don’t work as they currently stand as there are limits around what is possible within some of them, such as housing
  • it is important to have a strategy that is achievable
  • the indicators and themes identified will impact on delivery structures
  • need to look at what the best structures would be, e.g. New Scots as an accountability board? It would be useful to invite people to present on delivery, e.g. on education, housing, ESOL provision. What’s being done and what isn’t and what’s easy or hard
  • this would allow us to build our annual reports from this evidence. It would help to ensure that refugee provision were based on principles first with delivery decisions coming after. 
  • the accountability route may give the strategy some teeth

Action: Group to note need to review delivery structures for New Scots 3.

On quantity and level of actions for NS3, the discussion was as follows:

  • we will need to look at what actions we need to have. This will be influenced by what will come back from consultation and the delivery model
  • it would be good to move away from actions for the sake of actions. If framed within accountability, that would be an action, but can we hold anyone accountable
  • are the actions feasible by the stakeholders around the table? This ties into delivery structures
  • New Scots should be more linked to other policy areas in Scottish Government and local authorities, including the Ukraine space
  • some actions don’t progress because decisions are made elsewhere. For example, with poverty do we need a new structure or do we need New Scots representation within existing spaces where decisions are made? No point duplicating. Accountability will work if we are in the right spaces
  • need to review delivery mechanisms and where decisions are taken. Different themes feed into different Ministerial portfolios
  • it would still be good to see some real flagship actions that are achievable and defined. With New Scots 2, actions quickly unfurled as everyone had to deal with crises. Having some really good, defined and proactive actions would provide things to work towards and mean we could be proactive rather than reactive
  • thinking about human rights standards, if actions are not enforceable by law it may be good to instead have them considered as expectations
  • there are challenges with housing, ESOL and employability. We need some quick answers on ESOL training. With housing, how can we house several thousand people that we don’t have housing for? Increasing social housing is a massive challenge that will take decades to resolve. Employment is about getting people out of poverty. Not about replicating what has already been done, but instead thinking about what we have learned from the existing work
  • bearing all of the above in mind, we need to be smart about the actions we choose

New Scots final report  

Jenny spoke to papers 7 and 8 which were the New Scots Final Report and Reporting Template respectively. Jenny mentioned that with the draft template it would be good to have any views by 17 October. Any change will then be incorporated and the template will be reissued by 31 October. Groups will then have until Wednesday 16 January to return their completed templates.

Completed templates should cover 1 April 2021 to 31 December 2022. For those groups that did not submit a template for 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, this time period should also be covered. 

Actiob: Group to share any views on the template by the 17 October. 

Emerging issues and updates 

Alison introduced Miriam who was attending the meeting to talk about Ukraine Resettlement and the Warm Scottish Welcome. 

Miriam thanked the group, saying she is very much aware of the impact of Ukraine work on many around the table. She noted that the Homes for Ukraine and the Super Sponsorship Schemes used hosting to accommodate and support people into communities. The number of people applying to the Super Sponsor scheme, which was above Scotland’s proportionate national share, had meant that it had to be paused for new applications in order to best support those already granted visas. 

There was now a move from crisis response to stabilisation, looking at accommodation needs. Hotels and cruise ships were being used, and the challenge was to move from hotels into hosting and matching into social or private rented housing. There were also people arriving who didn’t need support. Many people were moving into employment, which made it harder for them to move to different areas. 

There has been a review of this work over the summer, mainly looking at accommodation, working with local authorities and the third sector on interventions. Interventions are mainly focused on pre-arrival information, post arrival and moves into local communities. The First Minister has announced a £50 million fund to bring properties back into use, which will provide a legacy which is not just focused on Ukraine. There were also pressure around language, schools and other areas.  

This had been a mass evacuation process, rather than a resettlement process, from which we need to learn.   

Miriam highlighted some positives so far:

  • there are high numbers of people going into employment demonstrating that people want to work.
  • over 80% of adults coming are degree qualified, but this raises questions about who is left in Ukraine. 

The following points were made in discussion:

  • need for longer term work and scenarios on returns and Scotland’s preparedness for future crises.
  • some people working remotely having businesses in Ukraine. 
  • there are a lot of children and young people here so it is important to think about what will happen with them. 
  • it is important to consider how we learn and adapt from crises and take some tools we are currently building for future situations. 
  • analysts are key in providing data to support future forecasting.
  • need to work on resilience and how to build this in to assist with future preparedness for crisis.

Action: A representative of the SG Ukraine Directorate to attend the core group going forward and contribute to the development of New Scots 3.

Afghan Resettlement (ARAP/ACRS) and UKRS

Gayle spoke to this item. Arrivals continue to the UK, mainly from Pakistan, and work is ongoing to move people out of hotels and into housing. This includes the move on process from hotels and enhanced matching. The process in England, which provides two formal housing offers before moving to the homeless route, has been signed off. Work on the Scottish process is still in progress to align with the Scottish homelessness process. A Find Your Own pathway for private rented housing has been challenging, because benefit levels don’t match rents.

Asylum dispersal

Gayle also spoke to this item. She advised that to the Home Office has announced a full dispersal policy across all local authorities. COSLA, as Strategic Migration Partnership, is working with partners, including Mears, on a full dispersal plan for Scotland. This was submitted to the Home Office at the end of September. 

The plan was developed on the basis of local authorities taking a proportional population share of asylum seekers, noting that all 32 local authorities have taken UASC and resettled refugees. Some procurement for widening asylum dispersal is already underway. There are also seven asylum contingency hotels and likely to be more. 

Refugee Festival Scotland

Gary spoke to this item. He advised that an impact report has been produced and an external evaluation has been commissioned. 

Any other business

ARC Card issues/Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel

Maggie raised an issue around difficulties for asylum seeking children and young people to gain access to the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel as a result of ARC cards not being consistently accepted as ID, and paper applications are taking a long time.

Glasgow colleges have asked for clarity on what can be accepted as ID. With the pressure on social workers, most UASC are unable to get help with the process. 

Jenny advised that forms can be completed at Glasgow Life libraries, although noted that this is only a relevant solution for those living in Glasgow.

AMIF funding 

Jenny informed the group that UKRA have invited SG to apply for further AMIF funding for 2023. Further information should be available by the next core group meeting.

Upcoming events

Gary informed the group that the SRC AGM is taking place on 20 October, with a public meeting afterwards. He also reminded the group of the date of the New Scots Conference on the 11 November.

Date of next meeting 

Alison closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their time and reminding everyone of the next gore group meeting. This will be on 13 December, 10am-12 noon at the COSLA offices on Bath Street, Glasgow. This will be an in person meeting with hybrid options. As of yet no dates have been set for 2023.

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