New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy: 2024

A strategy supporting the integration of refugees, people seeking asylum and other forced migrants within Scotland’s communities. The strategy is led jointly by the Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council.

Vision and Purpose

The New Scots vision is for a welcoming Scotland where refugees and people seeking asylum are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive

The purpose of the New Scots Strategy is to coordinate the efforts of organisations and community groups across Scotland involved in working towards better outcomes for forced migrants. It provides a clear framework and governance structure for all those working towards refugee integration and aims to support an effective implementation of the rights and entitlements of New Scots within Scotland’s devolved powers.[1] It assists the work of all partners to make the best use of resources and expertise that are available across Scotland. It does this by respecting and reflecting Scotland’s geographic complexity and by promoting partnership approaches, joined-up working and early, inclusive and evidence-based intervention as part of a place-based and trauma informed approach.

This Strategy envisions local communities becoming more adaptable and resilient as a result of their welcoming of New Scots and the sharing of culture and skills. In order to support a long-term approach, this Strategy is not time-limited. We will publish a Delivery Plan, which will be developed with partners and stakeholders and refreshed regularly, showing the specific actions we will take, and when they will be undertaken.

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy aims to support refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland’s communities. The Strategy is the result of a long-standing partnership between the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and Scottish Refugee Council.[2] The Strategy both supports – and is supported through – the many partnerships and initiatives that exist across Scotland to welcome refugees.

From its inception, the New Scots Strategy has acknowledged that integration is different from assimilation; that integration is not just about new arrivals learning the rules of their host society, places of dwelling and communities. Instead, integration is an inclusive approach that takes place through equitable interactions between people from diverse cultures through dialogue and respect. Every refugee brings with them languages, global connections, music, games, stories and many other intangible resources that they contribute as they set up new homes in Scotland. Supporting integration takes place at many levels. It requires partnership working among employers, schools, doctors, and many others including faith and belief groups, and also specialist support from various departments within local authorities. Some refugees are qualified professionals such as doctors or engineers, who need support to have their qualifications and professional skills validated; for others, Scotland may be the first place where they have the chance to learn to read and write.

While refugees bring many strengths, skills and experiences with them, all refugees have a history of loss, with many experiencing violence, oppression, and suffering. Refugees who have been restricted and persecuted can face barriers to participating in society because of a continuing fear of trusting people and not being aware of specialist support services. The engagement feedback, as well as the experience of implementing the Strategy over the past decade, has highlighted the needs of some refugees and people seeking asylum in particular. This includes women, children and young people, and members of the LGBTQI+ community. This does not diminish recognition of the needs of all those who have protected characteristics or specific vulnerabilities. Some children and young people will have had traumatic experiences in their formative years. They may also have missed significant amounts of education, which can be challenging, particularly if they are having to learn a new language. Instances of gender-based violence and violence against refugees who identify as LGBTQI+ are also common; with such instances occurring both in people’s country of origin and in their journeys seeking sanctuary. Supporting integration, therefore, has to begin with an awareness of trauma and conflict, and be rooted in a respectful, restorative,[3] human- rights based approach to creating healthy and diverse communities.

Many international bodies uphold the New Scots Strategy as an example of best practice worldwide, with the UNHCR commending the Strategy’s ‘long-standing dedication and serious intention to create a welcoming nation for those forcibly displaced’.[4]

Following the inception of the second Strategy, supported by over £6 million of EU funding, the New Scots partnership and organisations engaging directly with refugees and people seeking asylum have successfully delivered numerous projects to provide support across Scotland. Despite these achievements, however, those seeking to enact the New Scots Strategy have experienced numerous challenges which have had a significant impact on their ability to effectively meet all of its aims.[5] There remains commitment for partnership work to try to overcome challenges and continue to pursue the New Scots vision.



Back to top