Annex A: Engagement Process and Findings
The first engagement event for developing a new refugee integration strategy took place in November 2016 at the Scotland Welcomes Refugees Conference. The conference was attended by over 170 delegates, who took the opportunity to consider what the aims of the new strategy should be. Five key messages emerged from that engagement:
- Scotland should be a safe, inclusive country, where there are opportunities for all.
- All the themes of the first New Scots strategy remain relevant and should continue to be a focus.
- New Scots should remain flexible to respond to changing global events.
- New Scots should aim to prevent a two-tier or multi-tier system – to provide equal support across Scotland regardless of how refugees and asylum seekers arrived in the country.
- The new strategy should be truly national in scope.
A summary report  of the conference also highlights the main issues delegates discussed, including English language learning, employment, education, health, housing, welfare benefits, support and childcare.
It was agreed that development of the strategy needed to involve dialogue with people across Scotland, ensuring that refugees, asylum seekers, the wider community and key agencies were able to contribute. It was decided that events, which encouraged discussion and enabled people to contribute their views and then provide collective feedback, would be the most effective method of achieving this. It would enable gathering of information and allow event discussions to focus on matters best suited to the participants. Most importantly, it would provide opportunities for people who may not normally participate in more formal consultation exercises to inform the strategy. Engagement to inform the strategy was designed collaboratively with New Scots partners.
A facilitation guide  was developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council and other New Scots partners. During development, the Integration Forum  was also asked for its views on this approach and to advise on what would help third sector and community organisations to participate. Key suggestions from this group included providing the option for people to feed back via an online survey or form and ensuring that the guide would be accessible for both experienced organisations and groups which may not have run engagement events or considered issues affecting refugees or asylum seekers previously.
In parallel to developing the facilitation guide, New Scots partners considered potential barriers to participation. It was agreed that enabling refugees, asylum seekers and community organisations to participate was especially important, to ensure that the strategy would be informed by people with lived experience and those working directly in communities. A key measure to enable participation was the provision of a small grants fund to support events run by community groups and small charities. This was managed by the Scottish Refugee Council on behalf of the Scottish Government and provided small grants to assist with the costs of venues, refreshments, travel, childcare, interpretation and translation.
As part of an accessible approach, it was decided that the engagement questions should be simple and open. The Scottish Government's Fairer Scotland conversation was used as a model to inform the drafting of the questions. The three questions asked were:
- Thinking about refugee integration in Scotland, what issues are important to you now?
- What changes do you want to see by 2020 and why?
- What can you, your community or your organisation do to contribute to that change?
Prior to the formal launch, the engagement was piloted through two events to test the questions and gather feedback to refine the facilitation guide. The pilot events indicated that the approach enabled a diverse range of participants to actively contribute and raise the issues which were important to them. The feedback from these pilot events was considered alongside the feedback from all other events.
The engagement was launched on World Refugee Day, 20 June, and ran until 15 September 2017. Over 90 events were held across Scotland by a wide range of public sector service providers, local authorities, community groups, charities and national organisations. This enabled over 2,000 people to participate, including over 700 refugees and asylum seekers, who contributed their lived experience.
Events took place in 16 local authority areas: Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian. Wider geographic engagement was secured, as some events attracted people from neighbouring areas, including representatives of local authorities and national organisations.
22 small charities or community groups were supported to run events, with around £6,750 being distributed in small grants.
Summary of Engagement Feedback
The broad themes identified in the engagement feedback are set out in the relevant theme chapters of the strategy. The feedback strongly indicated that language is fundamental to all areas of integration, enabling people to communicate and understand information. This has been reflected in the establishment of language as a new theme for this strategy.
Key messages from the engagement included:
- A recognition of the essential role communities play in helping people to feel safe, settled and able to access services.
- The desire of refugees and asylum seekers to gain language skills and meaningful employment.
- The articulation of various issues related to the asylum system.
- The need for refugees and asylum seekers to understand rights, entitlements and responsibilities and to be able to access services.
- The enthusiasm for work to support refugees and asylum seekers, with individuals and communities highlighting their desire to welcome, engage, volunteer and participate in local activities.
- The need for all partners across the public sector and support organisations to be responsive to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
Alongside the feedback, it was clear that people felt able to be involved and that their views and experiences were valued. New Scots partners recognise that it is essential that this engagement with refugees, asylum seekers, communities and partners continues throughout the implementation of the strategy. 
The engagement that took place in 2017 has played a crucial role in informing the development of outcomes and actions for the strategy. However, to ensure that the breadth of the data that was collected is not lost, and in order to make it more accessible, an in-depth analysis is being commissioned. This will be published in 2018 and will be used to inform the implementation of the strategy.
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