Every year, we help hundreds of people who have been granted refugee status rebuild their lives in Scotland.

The transition from asylum seeker, with very few choices about how and where you live, to refugee, with a raft of new rights and responsibilities, is not an easy one.

We support people with everything from finding somewhere to live and a school for their children, to accessing social support, applying for travel documents and securing a place at college.

Last year, we helped 639 households from 45 nationalities to find their feet after being granted refugee status in Scotland.

And we worked with Dundee City Council to support an additional 300 people resettled in the region.

Here’s how we helped new refugees in 2022-23:
  • 454 people received housing advice to help them understand their rights and options
  • 120 people enrolled in language classes to help improve their English
  • 67 people were put in touch with partner organisations providing employment support
  • 50 people got help to apply for travel documents and Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
Emine and Hamza’s story

Emine and Hamza (not their real names) came to the UK in search of refugee protection after fleeing persecution. After nearly two years in the asylum system, they were finally granted refugee status. The couple came to us for help to settle in their new home.

Emine explained: “When we learned that we could stay in Scotland we were so happy. To be accepted and hear that you can start to live when you have had problems in your own country is a beautiful thing.”

We helped Emine and Hamza register with a GP, chase missing Universal Credit payments and connect with a local foodbank. When they experienced racist abuse, we reassured them and explained how to report a hate crime to the police.

Without a support network of friends and family, Emine initially struggled. She felt isolated, lonely and depressed. We referred her to mental health services, arranged English classes for her and helped her apply for a place at college.

She said: “I was pretty upset about the situation. I shared my thoughts with my advisor at Scottish Refugee Council and he asked what he could do to help. That was a big deal for me. I felt so much better. 

“After that good things started to happen. It felt like a door had opened. I started college. I started getting Universal Credit payments. I’m in a good place, so thank you for that.”

We helped Emine and Hamza apply for travel documents so they can visit close friends and family who have also been forced to flee and are seeking refugee protection in Europe.

Hamza explained: “In my country we face discrimination. Most people are not free to even move around in their own country and their passports are blocked. Many people are in jail for no reason. 

“When you are a refugee you are not that free to go to other countries because of the lack of travel documentation. We have friends and relatives we cannot visit. One close relative is in Germany. He got married and we couldn’t go to his wedding.  

“Today we are receiving our travel documents and we are so thankful for that. We leave as happy people. Now we can meet people that we know from before [we fled]. That is so important.”  

Before fleeing persecution, Emine worked as a nurse. She hopes to find similar work in Scotland so she can give something back to the country that has welcomed her.

She had this advice for other people seeking safety in Scotland.

“The process is long. It’s been three years for us to reach the situation we’re in. The most important advice I can give people is to be patient. Scottish Refugee Council has helped us a lot in this process. It is a big help to meet with people who are positive and guide you in the right direction. When you hear the words ‘What can I do to help?’ it’s so good.”

Find out more about our support for new refugees
Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb