Big Lottery Fund donates £2m to support refugees in Scotland

The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), Scotland has awarded almost £2 million to a consortium led by the Scottish Refugee Council to improve the way asylum seekers and refugees are able to access appropriate services as they arrive in Scotland.

This contract, worth £1,994,711 from BIG, the largest of the National Lottery Good Cause Distributors, will mean that over the next five years health, housing, education and employment provision will be more joined up for refugees and asylum seekers as they enter and integrate into Scotland.

Scottish Refugee Council will work in partnership with the British Red Cross, Anniesland College, the Bridges Programmes, and the Workers Educational Association Scotland to deliver their Holistic Integration Service. The new service will assist 400 refugees a year and will focus on allowing those new to Scotland and who may have arrived here under traumatic circumstances to quickly reclaim their independence as they build their lives in a new country.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair Maureen McGinn said: “By the time people have been recognised as refuges and granted leave to remain, many of them have been traumatised by everything they have been through. This funding will help to ensure that there is a joined up approach to help asylum seekers in Scotland access a range of existing mainstream services and assist their integration into Scottish society.”

McGinn further explained that the project will take a holistic approach. This means, McGinn said, that refugees “will be given guidance and support on how to access a full range services including health, housing, language skills and education and, if the person is given leave to remain, employment.”

Joe Brady, Head of Integration Services Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We are delighted that due to this generous grant from the Big Lottery Fund, we can start to roll out this new service model, which will ensure that we empower refugees to access their rights and have their needs met.

“Every day we meet refugees who are extremely resilient – they have to be given all they have been through. But often they are facing a complex set of problems in finding housing, accessing benefits, and balancing that with their need to get further education or training that will take them closer to finding work.”

Brady added that some of the refugees may have experienced fear, violence or even torture in their home countries, “and suffered extreme stress in the process of the asylum system.”

“When they get refugee status they have just 28 days before they are evicted from their Home Office accommodation and most become homeless. On top of that they face barriers such as language and difficulties in getting their qualifications recognised,” Brady said. “Along with our partners, we have the necessary expertise in this area to recognise the flash points and work with refugees to ensure they do not find themselves in crisis situations. This means they are able to contribute to Scotland and become an integral part of their wider community.”

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