Hundreds of refugees and people still waiting for a decision on their claim for protection have helped develop a new strategy to support people seeking safety in Scotland.

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, which has been endorsed by UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, sets out a vision for how Scotland can welcome and support people to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive here. 

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The strategy commits to better access to essential services such as education, housing, health and employment. It aims to help people settle, become part of the community, share their skills and pursue their ambitions.

More than 700 refugees and asylum seekers were part of 2,000 people involved in the development of the strategy. 

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, said:

“For refugees leaving home is not a choice, it is a necessity and they need understanding, support and hope for their future when they settle in a new country.

“New Scots recognises the strength, knowledge and skills that refugees bring to our country and I am proud that Scotland has become home to people from all over the world seeking safety. As refugees and asylum seekers rebuild their lives here they help to make Scotland stronger, more compassionate and a more successful nation.”

Councillor Kelly Perry, CoSLA, said:

“Since the first strategy was published the global context has changed in ways we could not have expected and Scottish councils have been at the heart of our response to this. Councils across Scotland have resettled thousands through the Syrian Resettlement Programme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and helped communities welcome their new neighbours.

“It is a testament to this work that so many asylum seekers and refugees joined in reviewing this integration strategy to ensure the voice of experience is central to changing things for the better.”

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said:

 “The new Scots who live and work among us bring a wealth of experience and talent to Scotland and the new strategy will help us unlock and develop that potential.

“At the end of the day these refugees will be our neighbours, our colleagues and our customers. We don’t want them to live in poverty, we want them to prosper and be proud of their own identities, proud of being Scottish, proud of being new Scots.”


Scotland’s second New Scots refugee integration strategy has been developed collaboratively through partnership, led by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council. 

The New Scots vision is ‘for a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive’.

The four main outcomes of New Scots are:

  • Refugees and asylum seekers live in safe, welcoming and cohesive communities and are able to build diverse relationships and connections.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers understand their rights, responsibilities and entitlements and are able to exercise them to pursue full and independent lives.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers are able to access well-coordinated services, which recognise and meet their rights and needs.
  • Policy, strategic planning and legislation which have an impact on refugees and asylum seekers are informed by their rights, needs and aspirations.

 Actions include:

  • Identifying how interpretation and translation services can be improved to better meet the needs of asylum seekers
  • Work with appropriate agencies to review the processes in place to access welfare benefits for all those granted ‘leave to remain’ aged 16 and over
  • Offer all new refugees access to information and advice on their rights, choices and options available in relation to employability, welfare and benefits
  • Improve refugee and asylum seeker access to support, advice and advocacy from the third sector and community to help with settling and orientation in their new home and communities
  • Ensure that housing services that work with refugees and asylum seekers are aware of safe reporting methods and are using third party hate crime reporting to increase the numbers of people reporting hate crime
  • Work with NHS 24 and health and social care partnerships to improve the availability of information about people’s rights and entitlements and how to access services

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Chris Pettigrew
Author: Chris Pettigrew