Everybody needs good neighbours, finds integration study on World Refugee Day

The importance of good neighbours has been highlighted by a study on integration conducted by Scottish Refugee Council, say researchers on World Refugee Day.

The interim findings of the integration study show that good neighbours make a positive difference to the lives of both refugees living in communities around Glasgow, and the Scottish people already resident there.

Almost two thirds of refugees surveyed (64 percent) said they felt safe in their neighbourhoods, and 60 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the area they lived in.

The data produced by researchers showed that those who reported being most happy, had regular contact with their neighbours.

'Kindness and practical help'

Several of those interviewed identified friendships with their neighbours as a way of reducing stress levels involved with settling in a new country. Others gave examples of the kindness of their Scottish neighbours, and the practical help that they offered.

One single mother, a refugee from Nigeria said: “The way they talk to you, they definitely know you’re an asylum seeker but still they talk to you as a friend.”

The young woman, who had a baby, said an older Scottish man brought her a television to help her out because he knew she didn’t have one, while another respondent said: “Sometimes I’m invited round to watch the football [because] I haven’t got a box.”

Others talked of being invited to have dinner with neighbours or to family parties or knowing they had someone to talk to in times of difficulty.

Real impact

The importance of these connections was underlined by the fact that only 20 percent of refugees and asylum seekers questioned had a family member living in Glasgow.

However others said friendships with neighbours could be superficial because people were too busy working to have time to strengthen bonds. And a small number reported racist incidents or feeling afraid.

Scottish Refugee Council is working with the Scottish Government and COSLA on plans to update its integration strategy for Scotland, which will be informed by our on-going integration study.  

Gareth Mulvey, Research Officer at Scottish Refugee Council, who is conducting the three year integration study, said: “We recorded many stories of people who had found neighbours had gone out of their way to be friendly and make people welcome and that had a real impact on refugees’ sense of wellbeing.

“What was interesting was that Scottish interviewees also reported the same benefits in having good neighbours – the experience of living in a well-integrated neighbourhood was just as important for both the incoming and the host communities.”

For more information contact Media Officers Karin Goodwin or Wendy Niblock on 0141 223 7927/07850 930418

 Notes to editors:

  1. Scottish Refugee Council has been conducting a longitudinal study of refugee integration since 2009, which is due to finish by the end of this year. There have been 5 stages of the research project, beginning with a questionnaire that led to over 250 responses. This was followed by 40 interviews and two focus groups before the questionnaire and interview process was repeated. The information above combines some data from stages 1-3 of the project.
  2. World Refugee Day is an annual awareness raising day, which falls during Refugee Week, a national festival of arts and cultural events. Refugee Week Scotland is co-ordinated by Scottish Refugee Council. It involves over 100 events from carnivals to comedy, football matches to film and a range of performances, exhibitions, workshops and talks. Refugee Week Scotland 2012 runs from 18-24 June and is more far reaching than ever before with events from Orkney to the Borders.