Insights into Integration

Man in a kilt c. Jenny Wicks
True multiculturalism embraces diversity

A new report launched by Scottish Refugee Council and Queen Margaret University highlights some of the integration challenges faced by refugees in Scotland.

Queen Margaret University and Scottish Refugee Council have launched their second year evaluation report of the Holistic Integration Service. This research is the first to share this amount of evidence on the challenges faced by new refugees in Scotland. It looks at all areas of life from being financially secure, finding a home, keeping good health, learning English, seeking work, getting education, to getting to know people and a new environment.

This interim report focuses on the two core aims of the evaluation: reporting evidence of our new refugees’ experiences of progress in integration and reflecting on the impact of the Holistic Integration Service model.

The Holistic Integration Service is an integral part of 'New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland's Communities' and as noted by Margaret Burgess, minister of Housing and Welfare at the launch of the report on 19 June 2015 “These first hand experiences are absolutely crucial to the richness and authenticity of the Strategy”.

What is the Holistic Integration Service?

 Based on Ager and Strang's indicators of integration, the Holistic Integration Service is a partnership led by Scottish Refugee Council with Bridges Programmes, British Red Cross, Glasgow Clyde College and Worker’s Educational Association Scotland.

The Holistic Integration Service offers up to twelve months support to people who have been granted Leave to Remain following an asylum claim in Scotland. Scottish Refugee Council provides an advice and support service, addressing initial critical needs and offering help to access services such as welfare benefits, housing and health. They also support people to identify and achieve their own goals in education and employment while maintaining financial and housing stability. Partners provide English language assessment, ‘English for speakers of other languages’ classes, employability support and enhanced personal support as required.

Impact of the Holistic Integration Service

  • Early Intervention and Prevention

The vast majority of refugees need early intervention to prevent their experiencing acute difficulties.

The Holistic Integration Service achieved to:

  • Reduce homelessness;
  • Reduce prolonged overcrowding or other unsuitable housing;
  • Prevent and reduce destitution by enabling refugees to access benefit payments;
  • Reduced social isolation
  • Reduced deterioration of refugees’ mental health           

Finding sustainable solutions

The Holistic Integration Service has enabled new refugees to build sustainable lives through:

  • Accessing settled satisfactory housing.
  • Achieving financial stability
  • Acquiring basic English language skills
  • Accessing health care
  • Making friends
  • Making careers choices and associated education and training plans

Key issues and recommendations

It has become increasingly clear that the service is needed even by many resilient new refugees simply to access basic rights. It can reasonably be concluded from our data that certain statutory services and rights – housing and benefits – are currently not accessible to legitimate beneficiaries acting independently.

The reports has a detailed list of recommendations for key statutory stakeholders to address key challenges faced by new refugees, such as destitution, access to affordable housing options and adequate opportunities to learn English. 

Watch this space

Two overarching themes have now emerged and will provide the backbone to the final phase of the evaluation. The first of these is access to rights for new refugees.

The second theme addresses new refugees’ opportunities to make and pursue their own life choices independently.

Our work in year three will look more closely at progress on language, development of social connection and overall health and well-being. It will also involve a critical evaluation of the extent to which the Holistic Integration Service model promotes sustainable, ongoing integration beyond the duration of the project’s engagement with beneficiaries.

The final findings of the evaluation will be launched early January. Watch this space!

Back of a woman  c. Jenny WicksThe Holistic Integration Service is funded by Big Lottery Scotland. 

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