New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2024: engagement analysis report

Analysis of engagement which informed the development of Scotland’s New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2024.

Executive summary


The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2024 is designed to foster a welcoming environment in Scotland, where refugees and people seeking asylum—referred to as New Scots—can rebuild their lives from the moment of their arrival. This strategy is a collaborative effort led by the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), and the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC). The strategy aims to streamline and enhance the efforts of many diverse organisations and community groups across Scotland, ensuring a coordinated approach of support. This document details the engagement process which was a key aspect of developing the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2024.

Engagement and methodology

Extensive engagement and consultations have shaped the strategy, drawing on:

These activities informed the development of the draft third iteration of the New Scots Strategy, which was subsequently refined through targeted stakeholder engagement using a two-phased approach:

  1. Framework Engagement Events. These events gathered a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives from local authorities, third sector organisations and charities, to discuss the draft iteration of the strategic framework with a focus on the vision, approach, principles, and outcomes.
  2. Community Consultation Process. Following the framework events, community consultations were run across Scotland, engaging with people with lived experience to identify priority actions for the strategy’s implementation.

Key themes and findings from the engagement process

The information gathered through the engagement process covered both the structure and wording of the strategy document and a thematic analysis of findings related to aspects of the integration process that are being handled well and areas in need of improvement alongside potential actions that could be taken. The key themes and findings are presented below:

Vision and principles of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2024


  • The strategy's vision was recognised for its clarity, ambition, and positive approach to welcoming New Scots from day one.
  • Many participants at the engagement events felt that the vision contrasted with less welcoming approaches elsewhere in the UK, emphasising that immediate support and a warm reception were found in Scotland.
  • Despite the positivity, many participants suggested focusing on a more realistic approach. Participants were slightly concerned about the vision’s aspirational nature, suggesting a need for actionable plans that anticipate and address potential challenges.
  • There was a desire for language that is more precise, respects and empowers New Scots, and acknowledges the diverse experiences and needs of refugees and people seeking asylum.
  • The inclusive nature of the vision was praised, but feedback highlighted the importance of refining language to ensure it is respectful and clearly defines concepts like "integration" and "inclusion."


  • The principles were seen as comprehensive and aspirational, but there was concern about how these would be implemented in practice.
  • Stakeholders wanted principles that not only set high standards but also were grounded in achievable, real-world applications, particularly emphasising the need for trauma-informed, inclusive practices.
  • There was strong advocacy for a rights-based approach, emphasising the need for clear information about the rights of New Scots from the moment they arrive in Scotland, as well as services that align with these principles.
  • The principle of collaboration was reportedly seen as both beneficial and already observed in practice; however, there were calls for more specific examples and guidance on how this can be more effectively realised.
  • Feedback suggested enhancing the language used in the principles to be more action-oriented. Terms like "engagement" and "consultation" were preferred over "involvement," and a stronger emphasis on mutual efforts in integration processes was recommended.

Strategic outcomes

Comprehensive integration:

  • Outcomes were appreciated for their clarity and alignment with the strategy’s vision, providing a detailed pathway towards integration.
  • The need for outcomes to be realistic and feasible was a recurring theme, particularly concerning current socio-economic challenges, including funding constraints and the housing crisis.
  • Participants highlighted the importance of outcomes that cater to a holistic approach, covering social, economic, and cultural aspects to support the overall well-being of New Scots.
  • Many participants suggested more detailed, measurable sub-outcomes that could be used to track progress and ensure that strategic goals are met effectively.

Health and housing:

  • Health: There was a consensus on the need for accessible, high-quality health services, particularly emphasising mental health and trauma-informed care. Participants discussed the challenges in navigating health services and the need for more culturally sensitive health provision.
  • Housing: Quality and accessibility of housing were major concerns. Participants described the current housing as often inadequate and stressed the importance of integrating the reality of Scotland’s housing crisis into the strategy. The competition for housing and its impact on community relations was also discussed, emphasising a need for strategies that avoid creating divisions between recently arrived New Scots and receiving communities.

Education and employment:

  • Education: The recognition of international qualifications and access to language support were seen as critical for integrating New Scots into the education system. Delays in school and college enrolments were raised, with calls for more comprehensive support for students, including recognition of prior learning.
  • Employment: Barriers to employment, such as unrecognised qualifications and lack of targeted job training were highlighted. Stakeholders emphasised the need for policies that facilitate smoother transitions into the workforce, including bridging programs and services that help translate qualifications into locally recognised credentials.

Cultural sensitivity and inclusion

  • There was a strong emphasis on avoiding assumptions and expectations of assimilation, and instead promoting a framework that respects cultural diversity and fosters intercultural understanding.
  • Feedback pointed to the need for services and policies that are sensitive to the cultural differences and histories that New Scots bring with them. This includes avoiding language that implies forced diversity and focusing on valuing different cultures.
  • The role of media and public perception was discussed, with a call for strategies that combat negative stereotypes and promote positive narratives about New Scots.
  • Concerns about racism and discrimination were prevalent, with stakeholders calling for more explicit efforts to tackle these issues within the strategy.

Challenges and recommendations

Systemic barriers:

  • The interaction between devolved and reserved powers was identified as a significant challenge, affecting the strategy’s capacity to meet its goals. The influence of the UK government’s immigration policies on Scotland’s ability to implement its own strategies was a concern.
  • Feedback suggested that the strategy should explicitly address these challenges, providing a clearer understanding of what can be achieved under current political constraints.

Funding and resource allocation:

  • A critical need for sustainable and adequate funding was highlighted, with participants noting that the ambitious goals of the strategy would require substantial support, particularly in sectors like housing, health, education and employment.
  • Participants asked for more equitable funding distribution, especially noting that rural areas often receive less than their urban counterparts.

Cultural sensitivity and inclusion:

  • The importance of culturally sensitive approaches was emphasised, with suggestions for more training for service providers and clearer guidelines on respecting cultural differences.
  • Feedback advised that the strategy should include more robust mechanisms to ensure that integration processes are genuinely inclusive of various cultural, linguistic, and gender identities.

Clarifying and communicating rights:

  • There was a strong emphasis on the need for better communication about the rights and entitlements of New Scots. Participants suggested that the strategy should include detailed information on rights and how they can be accessed and protected.

Strategic recommendations

Based on the engagement events and community consultations, several key recommendations emerged to guide the finalisation and implementation of the strategy:

  1. Empower New Scots: Enhance the empowerment of New Scots by involving them more directly in decision-making processes and ensuring that services are designed with their input and lived experiences in mind.
  2. Expand Trauma-Informed Practices: Broaden the application of trauma-informed approaches across all services to ensure that the needs of New Scots are met in a sensitive and supportive manner.
  3. Ensure Sustainable Funding: Advocate for consistent, long-term funding to support the strategic initiatives, especially for critical services that facilitate integration.
  4. Promote Inclusive Policies: Strengthen efforts to combat racism and discrimination, and ensure that integration policies are inclusive of diverse cultural, linguistic, and gender identities.
  5. Clarify and Communicate Rights: Improve the clarity and dissemination of information about the rights and entitlements of New Scots to support their full participation in Scottish society.


The New Scots Strategy 2024 represents a positive step towards creating a supportive and inclusive environment for refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. By focusing on partnership, lived experience, and a comprehensive approach to integration, the strategy aims to ensure that New Scots can contribute fully to their communities and have the opportunity to thrive. The feedback from stakeholders highlights the importance of realism, practicality, and inclusivity in moving from vision to action, ensuring that the strategy not only sets high standards but also achieves meaningful and sustainable outcomes.



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