Key Achievements in Year One
The first year of the New Scots refugee integration strategy 2018 – 2022 has seen significant work to respond to arising issues, as well as progressing actions set out in the strategy. Work across the strategy, to coordinate the efforts of organisations and community groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers, has supported key achievements, as well as enabling coordinated responses when needed.
In early 2018, there were numerous reports from asylum seeking students that they were being prevented from accessing courses, or continuing their studies, because of changes to immigration bail, which allowed study restrictions to be applied as part of bail conditions. Following discussion to identify the issue and significant lobbying, Home Office guidelines have been reissued clarifying that study restrictions should not routinely be applied to asylum seekers. The Home Office has also clarified this with local colleges and universities.
In July 2018, the asylum accommodation contractor in Glasgow announced plans to begin evicting people who had been refused asylum and had their asylum support from the Home Office terminated. A number of New Scots partners were involved in the Glasgow City Council Taskforce on Asylum, which was established in response. A significant amount of work has been undertaken by partners to ensure that those facing eviction were receiving the support and advocacy they needed, as well as ensuring that the process and legal positions of organisations involved were fully understood. There has also been an improvement in data sharing amongst service providers. The Taskforce reported in February 2019.
The New Scots strategy recognises the importance of language for integration, not just learning English, but supporting and valuing bilingualism. A new online learning module to help teachers and other education staff to improve their professional knowledge and confidence in supporting bilingual learners was developed and launched in August 2018. The module was developed by Education Scotland, SCILT and Glasgow City Council. This is the first in a series of online learning resources for people working with bilingual children.
A research project has identified evidence relating to asylum and refugee integration from a range of academic and other sources. This will help to inform the work of the New Scots strategy.