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Covid-19: resources to keep you safe and informed.

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.

Health and support

NHS guidance, community support groups and helplines to help you in these uncertain times.

  • Covid mutual aid keyboard_arrow_right
    Mutual aid groups

    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.

  • Food keyboard_arrow_right
    Glasgow

    Glasgow Central Mosque

    Refuweegee

    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

    Email: sikhsinscotland@outlook.com

    Website: www.sikhsinscotland.com

    Urban Roots 

    Urban Roots have created a Free Food map of foodbanks and community meals in Glasgow.

     

     

    Edinburgh

    Food for Good collective

    Edinburgh Food Social, Edinburgh Food Festival, Nourishing Change, Nourish Scotland and Slow Food Scotland have joined forces to form the 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.

    Scran Academy

    Complete an online form for free, hot, safe meals.

    Aberdeen

    Social Bite

    Food handout 2-4pm, Mon-Fri.

    516 Union Street, Aberdeen AB10 1TT

    Aberdeen Cyrenians

    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

  • Resources for Families keyboard_arrow_right
    Resources for homework help

    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

    A resource for young people, providing online support on mental wellbeing.

    The Spark – relationship counselling (also for young people)

    Relationship counselling for young people. People may feel their closest relationships under strain between spending more time with your partners, children and immediate family – or because you are seeing less of other family members due to the lockdown rules.
    There is also a helpline and people can receive up to 6 sessions for free.
    Parentline Scotland

    Call 08000 28 22 33 free, browse their website for advice and support, or start a webchat.

    • Mon-Fri, 9am to 9pm
    • Sat-Sun, 9am to noon

    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.

  • Health - translated guidance keyboard_arrow_right

    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.

     

    NHS guidance

    NHS Inform has created various materials to support you through Covid-19. More languages and resources are being worked on.

    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.

  • Helplines - Domestic Violence keyboard_arrow_right
    Domestic Violence

    Rape Crisis

    Rape Crisis helpline is open 6pm – midnight for anyone affected by sexual violence.

    Telephone: 08088 01 03 02 ; 07537 410027

    Email: support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

    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

    Email: helpline@sdafmh.org.uk

    Web chat: http://sdafmh.org.uk

    ASSIST Glasgow

    Telephone support service to women, men, children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

    Telephone: 0141 276 7710

    Email: assist@glasgow.gov.uk

     

     

  • Helplines - Mental health keyboard_arrow_right
    Samaritans

    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.

    Breathing Space

    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.

    SAMH

    The SAMH Information Service provides quality assured mental health information and signposting relevant to the people of Scotland

    0344 8000 550 or email info@samh.org.uk

    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.

    9-5 Mon-Fri

    0141 552 7425

  • How to use Zoom

    لعمل الاجتماعات و المحاضرات الدراسية Zoom تطبيق – Arabic guidance by Multicultural Family Base, Edinburgh.

    Translated guidance by JCORE in Arabic, Albanian, French, Kurdish, Polish, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, Turkish and Vietnamese.

  • Glasgow Disability Alliance (GDA)

    Advice and guidance – including health and wellbeing and legal and financial support.

    07958 299 496

    0141 556 7103

    info@gdaonline.co.uk

    Glasgow City Council Disability Services

    0141 287 0555

    Visibility Scotland

    Supporting people living anywhere in Scotland with visual impairment.

    0141 332 4632

    info@visibilityscotland.org.uk

    Scottish British Sign Language (BSL)

    Video relay service.

    0333 344 7712

    info@contactscotland-bsl.org

    NHS guidance

    NHS Inform guidance for people with underlying health conditions requiring to physically distance

     

     

Changes to the asylum system

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.

  • Additional locations for claiming asylum

    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.

    Appointments

    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.

    Initial interviews

    Some initial interviews have been cancelled, but others are still going ahead.

    What is an initial interview?

  • The Home Office have paused substantive asylum interviews. They are looking at alternative ways of conducting the interviews (they already conduct some substantive interviews by video link/skype).

    What is a substantive interview?

  • Ordinarily, people have to travel to Liverpool to lodge a fresh asylum claim. This requirement has been paused.

    You can now submit further evidence by post or email.

    Postal address:

    Further Submissions Unit

    The Capital Building

    Old Hall Street

    Liverpool

    L3 9PP

    E-mail address:

    CSUCE@homeoffice.gov.uk

     

    What is a fresh claim?

  • From 25th March, no face-to-face appeal hearings will be listed at the First-tier Tribunal (the court where most asylum and immigration appeals are be heard).

    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.

  • “The Home Office has decided that reporting as a condition of immigration bail should be temporarily deferred while it reviews how frequently people should report. You will receive an SMS text message soon with details of your next reporting date.”
  • No voluntary returns keyboard_arrow_right
    The voluntary returns service is now on hold.

    “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.”

  • No evictions for three months keyboard_arrow_right
    Evictions and terminations of asylum support have been paused for three months. We are seeking clarification on the support available for people who are already destitute.

  • Changes to asylum support keyboard_arrow_right
    Changes to payments

    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.

  • The Home Office has instructed asylum accommodation providers to procure additional properties regardless of whether a Local Authority has agreed in advance to become a dispersal area.

    This could lead to new dispersal areas in the coming weeks.

  • Resettlement has been paused to the UK until at least 20th April.

    Read FAQs sent out to local authorities by the Home Office.

  • Home Office travel documents keyboard_arrow_right
    The Home Office have informed us that they have limited capacity to process travel document applications due to Covid-19.

    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 traveldocumentenquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk

    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.

What we need the Home Office to do

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.

  • End destitution keyboard_arrow_right

     

    Read COSLA’s guidance for local authorities on supporting people who are subject to NRPF.

  • At present, people in the asylum system receive either £37.75 a week or £35.39 a week. This amounts to a little over £5 a day per person.

    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.

    We have written to the UK Chancellor and Home Secretary.

  • End immigration detention keyboard_arrow_right
    COVID-19 poses a serious threat to life in immigration detention centres.

    People in immigration detention must be immediately released, with suitable asylum accommodation made available to them and access to existing legal support.

  • In light of the tragic death of a Syrian man in temporary hotel accommodation in Glasgow, we set out five actions which we urge the Home Office and Mears to adopt and implement immediately. 

    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:

    • why they adopted this plan and how it was deemed compliant with public health instructions on non-essential travel, safe social distancing and safeguarding;
    • who precisely they consulted on this plan and when and in what terms; and
    • how they considered vulnerabilities before, during and after moving each of all those affected.

    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.

Updates to our services

  • Helpline keyboard_arrow_right
    To help protect the health of everyone in our community we are temporarily changing the way we run our services.

    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:

    • Arrange a phone appointment or speak to a caseworker
    • Show us documents – phone us and we will make arrangements with you to do this digitally if possible.
    • If you need to collect a payment – phone us and we will make arrangements.

    Any other queries please phone us on 0141 223 7979.

    Our helpline is open Mon-Fri.

    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.

  • How can you help? keyboard_arrow_right
    To ensure that everyone’s basic needs for food, essentials and up to date information are met, we have opened the Covid19 Refugee Support Fund.

    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.

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