History

Building a better future with refugees in Scotland since 1985

Vietnamese refugees were some of our first clients Scotland has long provided a welcome to refugees fleeing unbearable and life-threatening situations.

During the Second World War, Jewish families came here escaping Nazi invasion. Following this, the United Nations created the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Later, Ugandan Asians expelled by the dictator Idi Amin, as well as Chileans fleeing a violent military coup, made their way to our country.

Our early days

In 1985 Scottish Refugee Council opened its doors with just a handful of staff and volunteers. We provided advice and support to refugees from Vietnam and Chile, among other places. Refugee Action and the British Refugee Council, now called Refugee Council, helped us get started. 

In 2010 we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. From those early days in an Edinburgh shop, we have grown and evolved with demand.

Key events

Since 1985, we have been responding to refugee needs caused by events across the world.

The Bosnian Programme ran from 1992 to 1996. Hundreds of Bosnians were evacuated to Scotland during the brutal war. We opened a reception centre and led a medical evacuation programme.  

In May 1999 we ran reception centres to house Kosovans fleeing ethnic cleansing.

We also offered advice and support to people arriving independently to claim asylum in Scotland. For example, we gave advice to people fleeing war and persecution in Iraq and Rwanda.

In 1999, the city of Glasgow signed up to the dispersal scheme to provide a home and support for people seeking asylum from all over the world. We needed to offer advice to many more people, and as a result moved our offices from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

Since 1999, several acts of parliament have been passed which made claiming asylum harder and harder to do. These acts have often disregarded fundamental human rights. A key area of our work has been lobbying and campaigning for an asylum system that is both fair and just.

Annual reviews

Learn more about our work by reading our annual reviews