New partnership project helps reunited families rebuild their lives in Scotland

Girl with toys, photo c. UNHCR

Scottish Refugee Council, in partnership with the British Red Cross and the Workers Education Association Scotland, is launching a new project aimed at helping the families of refugees settle into Scotland after they have been reunited with their loved ones.

The Third Country National Family Integration Service will support the families of refugees through the challenges of rebuilding their lives after the complex process of family reunion.

It will help support and orientate people when they first arrive in the UK to join their families, as well as providing practical help, such as ensuring they have access to English, IT and Lifeskills classes.

This pilot project will aim to address social isolation, and help provide people with opportunities to become active members of their communities and meet other families. Funding has been granted by the European Integration Fund (EIF) until 30 June 2015.

Over the course of the pilot, it is expected that the project will support 60 vulnerable families, who have arrived after having found each other through the British Red Cross’s Family Reunion Service and other routes.

Phil Arnold, Senior Services Manager, Refugee and International Tracing Services for Third Country National Orientation and Integration Service, said: “Our previous experience shows that often it can be hard for families to integrate when they first arrive in the UK.

“They have all sorts of barriers to overcome, from accessing appropriate housing and welfare support to to learning a new language and getting used to an unfamiliar culture.

“On top of that, they have to recover from the negative effects of being separated in the first place. Being separated by persecution can have a complicated impact on family relationships and proper support that helps them move on with their lives is important.

“We are excited about the potential of this project and see it as the first step in addressing a significant gap in the current integration support.”

Joe Brady, Head of Integration at Scottish Refugee Council said: “This project aims to address many of the issues that were thrown up by the research we did into family reunion – ‘One Day We Will All Be Reunited’ – in which refugees themselves highlighted the integration challenges they faced and the need for a specialist family integration service within an organisation with an experience of refugee issues.

“Here now, is the service that they wanted; one that can offer practical and emotional support as they rebuild their lives in our communities.”