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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charities vital in welcoming refugees to Scotland

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​The third sector and refugees themselves will frame a new approach to welcoming people to Scotland

Charities will spearhead a new strategy to welcome refugees to Scotland.

They will be crucial to the creation of a new approach to integrating people into Scottish society, which will be rolled out next year.

The experiences and opinions of refugees themselves will also be vital to framing the new strategy.

Equalities minister Angela Constance said the current strategy, New Scots 2014 – 2017, has provided a vital basis for working together to enable the integration of refugees in Scottish communities, and demonstrated Scotland’s “exemplary response” to the refugee crisis.

Scotland must remain at the forefront of refugee integration

Following a visit to Maryhill Integration Network, where Constance met with families who arrived in Scotland through the Syrian Resettlement Programme this year, the cabinet secretary said: “Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world. This country’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria has been phenomenal – we have welcomed almost 1,200 refugees through the Syrian resettlement programme.

“We are acutely aware there have been dramatic global changes since the launch of the New Scots strategy in 2013. The war in Syria and instability in other areas around the world have escalated the crisis that we cannot ignore.

“This new strategy will allow us to continue to provide a warm welcome to those seeking protection, safety and security.”

Wafa Shaheen, head of services Scottish Refugee Council, said: “New Scots has been a unique and world-leading strategy supporting the integration of refugees in Scotland. Bringing together refugees, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations, it has focussed practical action towards realising a collective vision of Scotland as a place where refugees are able to build a new life from the moment they arrive in Scotland and to realise their full potential.

“We have seen an amazing response to the humanitarian crisis facing refugees. Scotland has welcomed Syrian families across the breadth of our country and has continued to provide sanctuary to men, women and children fleeing other conflicts and human rights abuses across the world.

“In light of developments, it is right that we take stock and devise a new strategy to guarantee that no matter where they arrive in Scotland, refugees are supported to access appropriate services, achieve their rights, build social connections and become active members of their new communities.

“As the leading refugee charity in Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council is delighted to contribute our 30 years’ experience of working with refugees to ensure that refugees, their rights and experiences remain at the heart of the next steps of New Scots and Scotland remains at the forefront of refugee integration.”