Poverty a major problem for refugees

SRC Sept 2010  c. Jenny Wicks

Poverty remains a major problem for asylum seekers who gain refugee status, according to new research conducted by the Scottish Poverty Information Unit at Glasgow Caledonian University for Scottish Refugee Council.

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

Researchers interviewed refugees living in Scotland and found that they were all struggling with low income, and most had difficulty finding a job because their skills and qualifications were not recognised. Many also said they experienced social isolation and a lack of social support and struggled emotionally as a result.

Scottish Refugee Council is calling for changes to 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 is 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.”