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.

Approach and Principles

The approach of the New Scots Strategy builds on the framework set out in the two previous Strategies, drawing from the learning and experience that has been gathered during that time. Since 2014, Scotland has welcomed a significant number of New Scots. Learning from resettlement, asylum dispersal and responses to emergency situations has demonstrated the need for an agreed set of principles.[6] This experience, alongside the findings from the research projects undertaken as part of the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project,[7] has helped to shape a refreshed Strategy that builds on existing good practice, rethinks and reshapes the areas that have been shown to need improvement and presents opportunities for innovative approaches to reach our collective goals of supporting New Scots. It reaffirms partners’ commitment to learning and evaluation, and points to the areas that, through the engagement undertaken, will require some consideration in the upcoming Delivery Plan.

There are six principles which form the New Scots approach:

1. Integration from day one of arrival[8]

The key principle of the New Scots Strategy is that New Scots should be supported to integrate into communities from the first day of arrival, and not just once leave to remain has been granted.

Integration is a long-term, inclusive, multidirectional process involving people, communities, institutions and structures of governance at all levels.[9] It enables people to be included in and contribute to society and to their communities. However, it is not only the responsibility of New Scots and the communities where they live.

For separated families and those arriving via resettlement programmes, preparations begin before arrival. Evidence shows that if people are able to integrate early, particularly into education and work and with appropriate housing, they have better health and wellbeing outcomes as well as being more able to make positive contributions in communities and economically.

2. A rights based approach

The New Scots Strategy recognises people’s rights and aims to ensure people can access information about their rights and entitlements, understand them and are empowered to exercise them, as well as having access to the services they need in order to participate in society and lead their lives.

We support refugees and people seeking asylum because it is the right thing to do; people should be able to live safely and realise their human rights.

The Strategy takes a holistic, human rights approach to integration that reflects both the formal international obligations the UK has and the long-standing commitment of successive Scottish Governments, and of local government in Scotland, to address the needs of New Scots on the basis of principles of decency, humanity and fairness. A human rights based approach to policy and decision-making empowers people to know and exercise their rights. It raises awareness of what human rights mean; gives people the chance to help shape the decisions that impact them; and improves the accountability of people and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling these rights. There are underlying principles in applying a human rights based approach known as the PANEL Principles.[10]

3. Restorative and trauma-informed

Successful integration of New Scots involves approaches that are restorative and trauma-informed.

‘Restorative’ is a term used to describe practices and approaches which help to repair harm, build and maintain positive relationships, and resolve difficulties.

Research consistently shows that New Scots experience repeated trauma at many stages of their journeys, with a resulting impact on their mental health and the crucial need to support people through this so they can lead successful lives. Integration approaches and practices should be trauma-informed, and services involving New Scots should be trauma-responsive. This means that services recognise the prevalence of trauma and respond in ways that reduce the impact of trauma on accessing services and support recovery, so that people can feel safe and have more control of their lives.

4. Involvement of people with lived experience of forced displacement

People with lived experience should be directly involved in decision- making processes regarding the integration of New Scots. There is strong evidence that when this happens, outcomes for people involved are improved.

The New Scots Strategy aims to encourage engagement with and participation by New Scots and refugee-led organisations. Refugees and people seeking asylum engage directly with a range of services and activities run by New Scots partners, helping to build the knowledge and experience that partners bring to the Strategy.

New Scots partners and New Scots themselves have actively worked to grow participation, agency and leadership amongst refugee groups. Opportunities for participation will continue throughout the implementation of the Strategy with a view to sharing good practice. This will support learning from different experiences of resettlement and dispersal across Scotland.

5. Inclusive, intercultural communities

Integration is an intercultural process: it involves dialogue and mutual learning between the many different cultures which make up our society. This can be achieved by ensuring language and cultural learning are well supported, both of home languages and of languages in their new communities. The New Scots Strategy also recognises that successful integration practices foster and depend on inclusive communities. This means that everyone within the community is included in processes of integration.

The New Scots Strategy embraces the principle whereby all communities across Scotland are enriched by practices which support positive intercultural interactions within inclusive communities, where people share and learn from each other’s different cultures and nobody is left out. This principle cannot be upheld without a commitment to supporting all people within communities where New Scots live.

6. Partnership and collaboration

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy has been developed collaboratively to coordinate the efforts of government, local authorities and the third sector across Scotland involved in supporting refugees and people seeking asylum.

The Strategy has been built on a model of partnership working, led by the Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council. It is founded on the principle that all the partners work together as equals, collaborating within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament, towards a more welcoming Scotland.

The Strategy draws on the support and expertise of many partners across public services, national and local government, the third sector, the private sector and community groups who are all working together to achieve collective goals. It is also informed by international standards of research and evidence. The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy seeks to acknowledge and draw on the rich knowledge and resources of individuals and communities engaged in integration.



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