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.

Conclusion and key points

The development of the third iteration of the New Scots Strategy involved an extensive engagement and consultation process, undertaken in order to understand and incorporate the needs, experiences, and aspirations of refugees and people seeking asylum into a cohesive strategic framework. This process has not only highlighted the complexities of integration but also underscored the diverse needs of New Scots.

The key points from both engagement phases are detailed below:

1. Enhanced funding and resource allocation: The consultations revealed a critical need for sustainable, long-term funding to support essential services for New Scots. Increased and more flexible funding is necessary to enable community organisations and service providers to deliver continuous, comprehensive support. This includes funding for housing initiatives that address the shortages and quality issues that many New Scots face, as well as for mental health services that are currently under-resourced. Participants emphasised the importance of establishing mechanisms for stable funding to avoid the disruptions that come from short-term grants and to ensure that successful programs have the longevity needed to make a meaningful impact.

2. Empowerment and agency: Feedback from the engagement sessions strongly indicates that New Scots value opportunities to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. It was noted that empowering refugees and people seeking asylum involves more than just consultation; it means actively involving them in shaping policies, programs, and services. This empowerment can be facilitated by creating formal roles within advisory and governance structures and by supporting initiatives that are led by New Scots themselves, ensuring that their expertise and experiences directly inform strategy development and implementation.

3. Improved access to services: Access to key services like housing, healthcare, education, and employment was consistently highlighted as a major barrier. Participants highlighted that strategies to improve access must include removing language and bureaucratic obstacles that prevent New Scots from utilising these services effectively. For instance, expanding translation and interpretation services across healthcare and legal services can greatly enhance accessibility. Additionally, participants felt that there is a need for a proactive approach in schools and workplaces to recognise and support the unique cultural and educational backgrounds that New Scots bring with them.

4. Education and language support: Participants highlighted that enhancing educational support for New Scots is about more than language acquisition; it is about integrating these individuals into the fabric of Scottish society. It was suggested that support for English language learning (ESOL) needs to be coupled with programs that recognise and utilise the professional and academic qualifications that New Scots bring. Educational programs should also include initiatives that help children and adults alike navigate the Scottish education system, understand their rights and opportunities, and receive support to overcome the educational disruptions many have experienced.

5. Social inclusion and community integration: True integration goes beyond physical and legal support; it involves building a society that embraces cultural diversity and mutual respect. Participants suggested that efforts need to be expanded to include more community-based programs that facilitate interaction and understanding between New Scots and their local communities. This includes funding and supporting cultural festivals, community dialogues, and local mentorship programs that build bridges and foster a sense of belonging.

6. Mental health and trauma-informed services: Participants highlighted that the trauma experienced by many New Scots cannot be overstated, and the strategy must continue to develop mental health services that are specifically tailored to their needs. This involves training for service providers in trauma-informed care and ensuring that mental health services are accessible, respectful, and sensitive to the cultural and personal histories of refugees and people seeking asylum. Participants felt that initiatives should include community-based mental health support that can be accessed without stigma or bureaucratic hurdles.

7. Partnerships and collaboration: It was noted that the strategy’s success is heavily reliant on robust partnerships across various sectors, including government, non-governmental organisations, community groups, and the private sector. These partnerships need to be dynamic and responsive, capable of adapting to changing circumstances and needs. Strengthening these collaborations involves regular communication, shared goals, and joint initiatives that leverage the strengths and resources of all partners involved.

8. Transparent and responsive governance: It was suggested that ensuring the New Scots Strategy remains effective and relevant requires a governance structure that is transparent, accountable, and inclusive. Regular monitoring and evaluation, coupled with transparent reporting and opportunities for feedback, are viewed as essential to adapt the strategy to new developments and challenges. This includes establishing clear metrics for success and mechanisms for adjusting policies and programs in response to feedback from New Scots and other stakeholders.

9. Addressing systemic challenges: Beyond individual services, many of the experiences shared by participants highlighted a need to tackle systemic challenges that affect the integration of New Scots. This includes advocating for changes in national immigration policies where necessary, addressing labour market barriers, and ensuring that all levels of government are aligned in their approach to supporting refugees and people seeking asylum. Participants noted that efforts must also be made to combat racism and xenophobia, which can undermine the integration process and create hostile environments for New Scots.

10. Promoting long-term integration goals: Integration is a long-term process that requires ongoing commitment and support. It was suggested that future strategies should look beyond immediate needs to consider the long-term aspirations of New Scots, including pathways to citizenship, long-term career development, and the integration of future generations. The strategy should also consider the diverse trajectories of integration that different individuals and communities may take, recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to integration.

The New Scots Strategy represents a comprehensive and ambitious approach to making Scotland a welcoming place for refugees and people seeking asylum. By building on the insights gained through this extensive engagement process and by continuing to adapt to the evolving needs of New Scots, the strategy can continue to foster an environment where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the richness of Scottish society.



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