This is a challenging and worrying time for all of us. Like everyone else, we at Scottish Refugee Council are trying our best to come to terms with the situation and take measures to safeguard the wellbeing of people seeking sanctuary in Scotland, our staff and volunteers and wider public.
Part of this is ensuring that everyone has access to quality information to ensure that people are safe and up-to-date with the changes that are happening. Take a look at some of our Covid-19 resources below.
Is there something missing? Let us know!
The latest Scottish Government advice is still Stay Home, Stay Safe, Protect the NHS.
During the Covid-19 crisis we are running our services via phone and video link. Please call 0141 223 7979 to make an appointment.
NHS guidance, community support groups and helplines to help you in these uncertain times.
A large number of Covid mutual aid groups have appeared around the country – ordinary people joining up to support the most vulnerable in their communities.
Find your local Covid mutual aid group.
See Glasgow Mutual Aid’s helpful list of resources.
New Scots Connect
New Scots Connect is a Scotland-wide network for community groups supporting New Scots. Find out how to join and connect.
Glasgow Central Mosque
Refuweegee can deliver support packages to you or someone you know. This includes toiletries, food and entertainment. Text PACK to 07520648388 to request items. This service is open to EVERYONE.
Sikh Food Bank
Urban Roots have created a Free Food map of foodbanks and community meals in Glasgow.
Food for Good collective
Are you, or anyone you know, in urgent need of food during this time of crisis?
This form can be filled out by (or on behalf of) anyone in Edinburgh who needs free ready-made meals delivered to their door by the Food for Good Coalition. https://forms.gle/phvEzLTQeunbtcsb9
Edinburgh City Mission
Food banks as normal plus home delivery for high risk groups and those with symptoms. Refer an individual or family member if you are concerned.
Complete an online form for free, hot, safe meals.
Food handout 2-4pm, Mon-Fri.
516 Union Street, Aberdeen AB10 1TT
Support package deliveries during Covid-19
Practical assistance delivering food, toiletries, baby items and clothing for those experiencing hardship.
Contact Aberdeen Cyrenians through AC2U or free phone 0808 1964422
BBC Bitesize : easy to navigate and to choose age appropriate resources. Beginning Monday 20 April, BBC Bitesize will publish daily online lessons for all ages.
Sumdog : games-based maths, grammar and spelling practise. Free access for all during Covid-19 outbreak.
And if you are struggling to explain the virus and lockdown, Coronavirus: A Book For Children has been published to help children understand what is happening.
Thanks to Monzo, you can view some of this information in Polish, Romanian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Amharic and Tigrinya.
Scottish Autism – support for autistic people, parents & carers
Aimed at parents, carers and autistic people who are seeking support and finding this period challenging.
Mind Yer Time – for children & young people
Aimed at helping children and young people learn about the healthy use of screens and social media.
Young Scot – young people & mental wellbeing
The Spark – relationship counselling (also for young people)
Call 08000 28 22 33 free, browse their website for advice and support, or start a webchat.
If you have very limited or no access to the internet at home, these resources might be almost impossible to access.
If you need help getting access to the internet and you’re a refugee or going through the asylum process, call our helpline or visit our website to speak to an advisor to find out how we can support you.
Covid-19 treatment is free for all and that anyone with symptoms, regardless of their immigration status, should follow the guidance in exactly the same way as those that are ordinarily resident in Scotland.
Anyone that requires immediate or urgent healthcare in Scotland, not only for Covid-19, will receive it regardless of their immigration status or their ability to pay at the time if charges apply.
Healthcare provision in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Government and is in no way linked to immigration control, which is a matter for the Home Office. NHS Boards in Scotland never pass on patients’ details to the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement.
Doctors of the World guidance
Doctors of the World have now translated essential Covid-19 guidance based on NHS and Government health advice and information in 48 languages available in written format. Please find them here: https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/
Coping strategies for anxious times
Translated guidance on breathing techniques from the Traumatic Stress Service in Bristol, available in 15 languages.
Rape Crisis helpline is open 6pm – midnight for anyone affected by sexual violence.
Telephone: 08088 01 03 02 ; 07537 410027
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline
Open 24/7 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you want support for yourself, or if you’re worried about someone:
Telephone: 0800 027 1234
Web chat: http://sdafmh.org.uk
Telephone support service to women, men, children and young people affected by domestic abuse.
Telephone: 0141 276 7710
Call Samaritans for free on 116 123.
Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday).
6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday).
Phone and speak to a Breathing Space advisor for free on 0800 83 85 87.
The SAMH Information Service provides quality assured mental health information and signposting relevant to the people of Scotland
0344 8000 550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Scotland
Services and opportunities for young people, families and professionals. Aims to increase awareness and confidence as well as reducing isolation and intolerance.
0141 552 7425
Advice and guidance – including health and wellbeing and legal and financial support.
07958 299 496
0141 556 7103
Glasgow City Council Disability Services
0141 287 0555
Supporting people living anywhere in Scotland with visual impairment.
0141 332 4632
Scottish British Sign Language (BSL)
Video relay service.
0333 344 7712
Rapid changes are happening across the world right now. Keep track of changes to the asylum process in the UK as they happen. Last updated 04/05/2020.
Following measures introduced by Her Majesty’s Government in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Home Office has temporarily introduced additional locations to register asylum claims. These are temporary arrangements which will be kept under review to align with HMG guidance. An overview of key changes and messages are outlined below.
1. Locations have been identified across the UK to facilitate this. The AIU in Croydon will continue to function as normal but will additionally be supported by limited operations in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Leeds, Solihull and Cardiff. These will be to meet the demands of asylum registrations within the geographical area and will not operate a 5-day service.
2. These changes do not represent a new operating model. They are contingency measures put in place during the COVID-19 epidemic in order to fulfil the UKs statutory requirement to register asylum claims.
1. Appointments in Glasgow and Belfast can be booked in the usual way, which is;
Glasgow – customers are still to phone the AIU appointment line on 0300 123 4193, once a call is logged, a member of staff within the Glasgow team will return the call to book an appointment. The appointment line operates Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm; and Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.
Belfast – customers should attend Bryson, who are contracted by Migrant Help, at Stockman House, 39-43 Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7FE, where a member of staff will deal with their application. They will then be placed into initial accommodation and a date for their screening interview will follow. Migrant Help are open Monday to Friday 09.00am – 5.00pm.
Out of hours customers will be directed to the local PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) who will liaise with Mears if accommodation is required until the following day when they can attend Bryson.
2. Appointments in Liverpool; Leeds; Solihull; Cardiff; and AIU will be booked through the AIU appointment line on: 0300 123 4193. This operates Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm; and Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.
3. Walk-in arrangements – customers do not need to make an appointment if they have nowhere to live, however it is strongly advised. It is requested if customers do need to ‘walk-in’, that they contact Asylum Intake Unit appointment line who will be able to advise whether they should attend the Asylum Intake Unit in Croydon or which temporary location they should attend.
4. Owing to COVID-19 measures if a customer feels unwell, or a member of their household has recently felt unwell, please advise them to check Public Health England advice on when they should stay at home. Please advise them to access the Government website for more information before attending an appointment. If a customer has any of the symptoms mentioned in that guidance, they should not attend their appointment, but please contact us on 0300 123 4193 to make alternative arrangements. Being unable to attend an appointment due to ill health will not affect their immigration status if they inform us.
5. Appointment letters – Customers must bring their appointment letter with them to their appointment. It is a necessary requirement to attend a Home Office asylum registration centre to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and facial photograph) when registering an asylum claim. Travel to the appointment at the asylum registration centre is considered essential. Please advise customers to bring their appointment confirmation with them when they travel to and from the appointment.
Some initial interviews have been cancelled, but others are still going ahead.
What is an initial interview?
What is a substantive interview?
You can now submit further evidence by post or email.
Further Submissions Unit
The Capital Building
Old Hall Street
What is a fresh claim?
Until at least 30th April, judges will conduct Case Management Review (CMR) Hearings by telephone to decide if the case can be decided on the papers (without a hearing). If a full hearing needs to go ahead, this will be done by video.
Further information on the process can be found on the ILPA website here.
The Upper Tribunal have cancelled almost all listed hearings including Judicial Reviews.
“We are currently receiving a high level of interest in the services we offer, and we continue to work with people to try and fulfil their requests to leave the UK.
“However we are currently experiencing difficulties that mean that we cannot currently support assisted returns for people who require a level of assistance upon return from the United Kingdom. We are experiencing infrastructure and other issues that make it difficult to impossible to offer that level of support at this time.
“We have therefore made a very difficult decision to cease offering assisted returns at this time.
“We will continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as we possibly can. Where we can arrange flights, get travel documents etc we will continue to do this, and we are very happy to talk to people to see what help we can offer on an individual basis.”
People on section 95 support whose asylum claim and any appeal are refused will be transferred to section 4 support and will continue receiving financial support. They should receive a letter notifying them of this.
People who have received a positive decision on their asylum claim will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation but are expected to apply for mainstream welfare benefits, however, their asylum support payments will continue until they have received their first benefit payment.
Changes to evidence requirements
The Home Office have stated that they will not expect Migrant Help to have had sight of original supporting documents provided with asylum support applications. Migrant Help will be able to complete information to indicate they have seen copy documents.
As new birth certificates are not currently being issued, the Home Office will not expect applicants for maternity payments to produce them. A full birth certificate may be required at a later date once normal arrangements have resumed.
This could lead to new dispersal areas in the coming weeks.
Read FAQs sent out to local authorities by the Home Office.
They advise that anyone who is in particularly difficult situation and needs their application to be considered as a matter of priority, should send a request, along with scanned recent, acceptable evidence of the circumstances and confirmation that the client is able to travel i.e. confirmation from the airline or ferry company to email@example.com
If the Home Office agree that the case meets the criteria for being expedited and an application has not yet been submitted online, then the applicant will need to complete an online application. If an application has already been submitted then the applicant should not apply again as this is likely to cause confusion and may delay their application.
The Home Office ask that the above is done only in the most urgent of cases as there are a limited amount of officers available to monitor this email inbox and to process cases.
In addition, please be aware that more countries are closing airports and borders on a daily basis and this will also impact on people’s ability to travel.
Finally, the Home Office are working with our delivery partners, DX, to understand and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on their services. Please be aware that documents may take longer than usual to be delivered.
We need assurance that nobody will be left behind in this crisis and beyond.
We welcome that the Home Secretary has agreed to one of our key asks, that all those recognised as refugees must automatically remain on full asylum support until they have been successfully moved onto full social security provision. This shows it can be done. We encourage her to adopt our other recommendations.
Read COSLA’s guidance for local authorities on supporting people who are subject to NRPF.
Even in the best of times it is incredibly difficult to keep healthy and sane on this type of budget. As everyone knows, right now we are far from the best of times, with foodbanks and community support projects under intense pressure. The networks and informal arrangements that people rely on to top up their weekly supplies of food and other necessities are buckling under the pressure.
The UK Government has recognised the need to increase levels of Universal Credit support at this point in time. We ask that they also increase asylum support rates by £20 a week to give people the best chance to look after themselves and their families during this crisis.
People in immigration detention must be immediately released, with suitable asylum accommodation made available to them and access to existing legal support.
1. They must cooperate fully with the Scottish investigation of death process led by the Crown Office. The loved ones of the man must be contacted sensitively by the Home Office and fully involved. His loved ones must also be treated with dignity and respect.
2. They must publicly set out the steps they have taken or plan, to support those affected by this traumatic event, especially hotel residents as well as front-line workers. This must include mental health counselling. The trauma caused by an event like this can last a lifetime and we know the vital importance of proper support in helping people to move forward.
3. Hundreds of people have been moved recently from either single occupancy or two-bedroom flat accommodation to hotels procured by Mears and the Home Office. The man is reported to have been in one of these flats before being moved to a hotel. The Home Office and Mears must explain, in a public statement:
4. We understand that around 360 people are now housed across hotels in Glasgow. We have been concerned whether hotel accommodation and removal of financial support can ever be suitable for many of those moved, especially if compared to the privacy and stability in the accommodation they were moved from. These concerns have been heightened by this tragic news. The Home Office and Mears must publicly set out the conditions in these hotels and the specific support available to people in them.
5. Mears must keep the promise they gave to the Home Affairs Committee on Thursday 7 May to work very closely with Glasgow city council and NGOs on transitioning out of the pandemic. The Home Office must also make this promise. Destitution and homelessness are incompatible with the inclusive public health recovery we all need. Evicting people from any form of asylum accommodation this summer must be ruled out now.
We urge the Home Office and Mears to adopt these points today. In a crisis situation, all of us must work together to avoid additional tragedies, and we urge the Home Office and Mears to be open and collaborative in their response to this crisis.
During the COVID-19 crisis we will provide a full advice service by phone only.
We are working hard to make sure this runs smoothly and to make sure that everyone who needs advice is able to get it.
Please phone us on 0141 223 7979 to:
Any other queries please phone us on 0141 223 7979.
Mon 10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm.
Tues 10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm.
Wed 2pm – 4pm
Thurs 10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm.
Fri 10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm.
Please take care and we hope to see everyone again when this crisis is over.
As our response is changing daily, we will provide ongoing updates on how you can help but we welcome any donations and support you can offer.