Farzana, one of our Refugee Integration Advisers, has a wealth of experience in supporting refugees and displaced people. Before coming to Scotland in 2021, she worked for the Linda Norgrove Foundation in Afghanistan, where she helped provide education and health care for vulnerable women and children. Now she is using her lived experience to help people arriving in Scotland settle into their new communities step-by-step.

Tell us a bit about your job

I’ve been working as a Refugee Integration Advisor for almost 14 months now. My role is to provide information to newly recognised refugees, advocate on their behalf, and support them in the integration process. I also refer people to other agencies and organisations that can help them with anything from finding a job, registering with a GP, or applying for benefits. Ultimately, my goal is to help people integrate well into the community and make social connections.

How long have you worked for Scottish Refugee Council and what drew you to the organisation?

I started in June 2022. When I came to the UK in 2021 everything was new and uncertain for me. I had a strong fear that I would make the wrong choices. That I would offend someone because of our different cultures. I wanted to be accepted, to be part of society. In the beginning it was so stressful and the only people I knew were my manager and people from the foundation I worked for. Their support and encouragement made me think “how do other people face these challenges?”

One of my friends told me about a job at Scottish Refugee Council to support people. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t think I had the knowledge or experience. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know enough to help others, but I tried my luck and applied anyway.

I have been through the refugee process myself, so I know how overwhelming it can be. I wanted to use my experience to help others who are going through the same thing. I want to put people at ease and give them hope. Sometimes when I explain the process to clients, they take a deep breath of relief and say, “thank you.”

What’s the best thing about working for Scottish Refugee Council?

There are actually two things that I love about my job. First, I find it very rewarding to see people make progress in their integration journey. Even the smallest steps can make a big difference, and it’s always great to see people feeling more confident and independent. For example, one of my clients who I have been working with for two months was very uncertain at first and had intermediate English. But, when I spoke to her this morning, I learned that she had registered with her GP and dentist on her own. She has also applied for college because she wants to become a teacher in the long run. And she has applied for nursery for her child. It is amazing to see her confidence progress. It feels very satisfying to me.

Second, I love working with my team. We’re all very supportive of each other, and I know that I can always count on them for help. Working from home can be challenging at times, especially when I have a difficult conversation with a client or am asked a question I don’t know the answer to. However, I can always get in touch with my line manager, Karolina, or one of my colleagues. They are always kind and supportive, and I wouldn’t survive without them.

What’s the most challenging thing about your role?

The most challenging thing is managing expectations. When people first get their status in the UK, they often have high hopes and want to do everything fast. They want to grow and engage in the community. I have to be honest with them about the challenges that they will face, but I also want to give them hope and encouragement. However, the reality is that it takes time to learn a new language, understand a new culture, and build a new life. I have to remind them that it’s a long-term process. Also, refugee policies can be confusing to people because what they see on paper can be very different from what they experience in practice. 

What do you find most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing about my job is seeing people take small steps and improve in their confidence. It’s amazing to see someone who was once feeling lost and overwhelmed start to feel more at home in their new community. It’s a privilege to be a part of that journey.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

When I’m not working, I love spending time with my family both in the UK and outside of the UK. I call my mum and dad and my siblings outside the UK because sometimes they are worried about me and I am worried about them. I let them know that I am fine. I also have a nephew here in Scotland who is two and a half and he is amazing. I love spending time with him.

I love listening to music. Sometimes I listen to music in languages that I don’t understand, but I love the way the music makes me feel.

I also enjoy taking walks around the castle grounds near my house. It’s a large, green space with lots of trees. It’s very quiet and peaceful, which I love.


Find out more about our support for new refugees. 


Laura Delaney
Author: Laura Delaney