Social Security Experience Panels - ethnic minorities: report

This report is on research with ethnic minority groups about their past experiences of social security and the barriers that exist to them in accessing support. It provides information about the steps Social Security Scotland is taking to help overcome these barriers.

This document is part of a collection

Places for Social Security Scotland to promote its benefits 

Participants were asked about what Social Security Scotland could do to raise awareness and make sure the public knew about the support that was available. 

Many suggested that information should be placed in locations that were visible and trusted by ethnic minorities. 

Participants suggested a variety of places for Social Security Scotland to promote its benefits. These included: 

  • Religious buildings – Mosques, Temples, Gurdwaras 
  • Ethnic minority advice centres and support groups
  • Day centres 
  • Nurseries and schools (for Best Start Grant)  
  • The post office
  • Libraries
  • Local newspapers
  • Social media 
  • Local Asian radio networks
  • GP clinics, Pharmacies, Dentists

Religious and local organisations

Many thought that more could be done to share information with those who spent large amounts of their time in religious and local community settings. Several wondered if there were opportunities for Social Security Scotland to build links with local charities and ethnic minority advice centres. They felt that these groups were highly trusted already and would help to encourage others to apply.

"One method for success is to have a staff member from the benefit department reach out to ethnic minority organisations to explain. For example, if a new benefit comes out, if workers are able to organisations to introduce the new benefits and explain how to apply, it brings the knowledge into the ethnic minority groups."

"They should work with ethnic minority centres who can provide information sessions to the public who trust them."

"It’s better if it comes from a community centre - not from an outside resource. It’s more reliable that way."

Several participants thought that Social Security Scotland should look out for specific events or social groups that are attended by people locally in the community. 

"Look for spaces for community events. We have a nice hall in the town here. Invite people. Make it friendly. People could bring food."

"Best to send the leaflet to local Chinese organisations and groups who are trusted by the community."

Trusted and comfortable locations

Some said it was important to have information in as many places that people trusted and felt comfortable in. Several had felt uncomfortable in official spaces in the past.  

"The Job Centre here is not the nicest of places. There are security guards. Sometimes it feels a little unsafe. You feel like you’re not welcome. Especially the elevator. I remember going in when I was pregnant and I didn’t go again because of the atmosphere."

Some said that they would want information in neutral locations which any member of the public could walk into. 

"I trust a leaflet at a GP surgery. I trust a leaflet at the reception for a council building. Some people don’t go to community groups very often, but will go to those places."

"I’d go to somewhere accessible. Where you are not judged or discriminated. Somewhere neutral. Where a student or a doctor could have walked in."

A number of participants also thought that Social Security Scotland could make links with schools and nurseries. 

"I got a letter about Best Start Grant from the nursery where my kid goes. Newsletters are given every term. I really appreciate it. There could be more things like this."

A few thought that a transportable service like a ‘mobile library’ would help to get information to members of the community that were more isolated. 

"You could have something like a mobile library. Something that moves around. It’s important that it’s related to our community though."

Face to face contact

Several said that face to face sessions would help make the organisation more approachable to the public.

"There’s lots of ways to improve communication between organisations and the public. Sometimes it might be direct – i.e. getting staff to come to local areas and explain the benefits. Other times it might be joining with charities, having regular focus groups, and connecting people."

"There could be free sessions on the benefits system – for things like new policies etc." 

Some said that face to face contact would allow people to ask questions. 

"Face to face gives time to ask questions for those who know nothing about the benefits system. This is the best way for the elderly."

"Easier to understand face to face – my hearing is much better when I am face to face with someone."

Others talked about how home visits would be useful for people who found it difficult to leave their home.

"It would be better if people could come and see you. It would build up trust."

"Make an effort to visit someone who is housebound."

However, participants said that promoting specific benefits wasn’t only about having more information in more locations. It was also important to make sure that information was accessible to ethnic minorities whose first language is not English. 

The next section of the report contains participants’ views about making information more accessible in a range of languages. 



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