This research aimed to gather together evidence relating to asylum and refugee integration which could be used to inform the work of the New Scots refugee integration strategy.
A total of 174 evidence sources have been identified by theme and consideration has been given to some of the key characteristics of this evidence, including: geographical scope; research method; and the organisations supporting the generation of evidence by funding and commissioning research.
Available evidence is not evenly distributed across the themes identified. A significant proportion of evidence considers multiple themes, highlighting how interconnected integration work is.
There are gaps in the available evidence. This is sometimes because refugee status is not a category for data collection and this population is therefore not distinguishable from the general population. The question of whether a person’s status should be recorded is complex and requires understanding of people’s identity as well as consideration of the appropriateness of gathering information which is not required to deliver services appropriately.
The majority of evidence sources have used mixed or qualitative methods. This is likely to be because of gaps in quantitative data available and the challenge for researchers of recruiting enough participants to constitute a reasonable data set. This also says something about the nature of integration itself, it is about ‘how’ support can be provided and ‘why’ things did or didn’t work. Integration is complex and it affects individuals in different ways, finding out the ‘how’ and ‘why’ is likely to be more useful than just measuring the number of people affected.
Some of the most systematic evidence identified in this research came from evaluation of multi-year integration programmes (such as the Holistic Integration System). These evidence sources often used mixed methods to measure progress as people settle and integrate into communities rather than a snapshot of a single short term project. Integration is a long term process and evidence sources which reflect this and consider the long term impact of work may be most useful for informing good practice. This is not something this research was able to consider in detail.
Since 2000, the number of sources of evidence produced each year has varied. This research did not consider the timescales of the research itself but looked at the date of publication when known. It also didn’t investigate whether previous research had informed these publications or if they had referred to previously published data. This could be a useful consideration for future research, to be able to create indicative measures for the impact of integration work.
This research helps to form a picture of the type of evidence available to support refugee and asylum seeker integration in Scotland. It is hoped that it can inform the planning of future research and the delivery of the New Scots refugee integration strategy.