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Young Scot Chief Executive, Louise MacDonald, talks about the significance of young refugees in Scotland receiving a Young Scot National Entitlement Card, and how it could benefit them.  

We were all struck by the images and stories of refugees risking their lives to make a better a future for themselves and their families. The reports of child refugees is particularly upsetting for anyone who work with young people. We are proud to say that Scotland and Young Scot welcomes refugees.

Scotland is a nation with a long tradition of showing compassion to people arriving to our shores. Of the thousands of displaced individuals and families arriving here each year there are young people who find themselves in a different land, with a new language to learn and facing the loss of the social bonds we all rely upon and can take for granted.

No young person should ever be in danger of isolation and at Young Scot our mission is to be able support every young person living in Scotland through information, ideas and opportunities. This of course includes refugees settling in Scotland.

These new Young Scots have so much to offer Scotland and they help make us a stronger and more diverse country.

At Young Scot we want every young person in Scotland, wherever they have come from, to feel valued. We need to give them confidence about their own future, and the information and access they need to make their own decisions.

To help us do this, we are really keen to ensure that all young refugees receive a Young Scot National Entitlement Card as part of their welcome to Scotland.

On a practical level, the card enables access to a host of benefits; discounts; rewards; public transport discounts; access services such as libraries and leisure facilities in their local authority; and proof of age to access other goods and services such as a bank account. On another level, it’s a small sign to our new young Scots that they are one of us, with access to the same benefits and services as over 620,000 other young people living in Scotland.

We want to ensure we don’t miss out on welcoming any new Young Scots and we are delighted the Scottish Refugee Council has been able to help us reach out to partners across local authorities to assist young refugees now living in Scotland. For many this will happen automatically through their schools, for all others they can apply through their local authorities, with the help of support workers. Through strong partnerships, we are working together provide all the assistance we can to help young refugees become card holders.

It doesn’t matter if you were born here, chose to move to Scotland or if you have come here seeking sanctuary; as a young person living here you are young Scot and we welcome you to Scotland.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, added: “For over 30 years the Scottish Refugee Council has been working with refugees of all ages and we are particularly proud of the help and support we have given to young refugees. Whether here with their family or here alone young refugees deserve the same chances and opportunities as all other young people. That is why we welcome Young Scot’s commitment to work with us in supporting young refugees.

Scotland will always extend a welcoming hand to those who desperately need our help, especially in the case of young children, and everyone needs to be at the heart of that welcome.”

Chris Pettigrew
Author: Chris Pettigrew