Research reveals high rates of poverty among refugees in Scotland

Reaching safety is not the end of the journey: new research reveals high rates of poverty among refugees in Scotland

New research conducted by the Scottish Poverty Information Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University for Scottish Refugee Council has revealed that poverty remains a major problem for asylum seekers who gain refugee status.

The research comes on the back of International Day for Eradication of Poverty (October 17) and shows that even highly skilled and qualified refugees face more barriers than other people in getting out of poverty.

Researchers interviewed refugees living in Scotland and found that:

  • All were struggling with low income
  • Most had difficulty finding a job, as their skills or qualifications were not recognised
  • Many sent money to support family in their country of origin despite having very little themselves
  • Many experienced social isolation and a lack of social support

Scottish Refugee Council believes changes could be made to the system to help tackle poverty among refugees, including introducing the right to work for people who are going through the asylum process. This would help people to keep their skills and confidence levels up and prepare them for the workplace if refugee status was granted.

Kate Lindsay, report author and research fellow from the Scottish Poverty Information Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: ‘Refugees are not passive recipients of what they are offered by society, but are resourceful and creative in seeking solutions to the barriers they face.

‘However the routes that refugees have to get out poverty appear to be narrower than they are for others.’

Gareth Mulvey, Research Coordinator at Scottish Refugee Council, said: ‘We are becoming more aware of the hardships people face as they go through the asylum system in the UK. This report shows that the journey doesn’t end once someone receives refugee status.’

The research paper will be discussed at a seminar on 19 October at 2.30pm-4pm at Buchanan House, Glasgow Caledonian University, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow. Contact Kate Lindsay ( to attend.

For more information or interviews contact:

Clare Harris/ Karin Goodwin, Scottish Refugee Council media officers, 0141 223 7927 or 07734 030763

Alison Arnot, Communications Manager, Glasgow Caledonian University, 0141 331 8670 or 07795 052553


Notes to Editors:

Refugees’ Experiences and Views of Poverty in Scotland (October 2010) was written by Kate Lindsay, Morag Gillespie and Louise Dobbie from the Scottish Poverty Information Unit (Glasgow Caledonian University) on behalf of Scottish Refugee Council.

The report is available to download from

A refugee is defined as a person to whom the UK Government has granted Refugee Status, as interpreted under Article 1 of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Once status has been obtained new refugees have 28 days to move from asylum support and access mainstream benefits and services.

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland. We also provide specialist services in areas such as housing and welfare, women's issues, community development, the media and the arts.

We play a leading role in policy development and campaign on refugee issues to ensure that Scotland plays a full role in meeting the UK's legal and humanitarian obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.