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Lottery £2m offers safer future for Scotland’s newcomers

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Working in partnership
Release date:
5 12 2012

ALMOST £2 million from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), Scotland has been awarded 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: “At the Big Lottery Fund we are constantly seeking new ways of helping and supporting communities and people most in need.  We want those people at the greatest disadvantage in our society to be better able to access the support, assistance, facilities and provision necessary for a greater quality of life.  Through this funding today we are supporting people who have had leave behind all they have known in their home countries as they seek asylum protection in Scotland.

“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.

“Rather than focus on the single issue which may appear the most pressing, this project will begin by taking a holistic view of each person. This means they 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.

“In their home countries they may have experienced fear, violence or even torture 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.

“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.”

Nyapan Biliaw fled extreme violence in Sudan with her youngest child and was granted leave to remain in 2005. She was later reunited with her two older children and expected her life to become more straight-forward.

Instead she has spent the last seven years struggling with problems with housing and benefits and still finds it difficult to understand what she is entitled to.

She said: “It was really difficult when I got my papers. I was so happy but then I came across all these problems that I didn’t expect. I became homeless and then got a house but when I got there it was damp and in a very bad condition. I found it difficult to get on to benefits too.

“What made everything harder was that I didn’t speak English and it often took a while to find a translator who spoke my language Sudanese language, Nuer. It took over a year to get on an English course.

“When you are an asylum seeker you have problems but you just have to accept them – you can’t do anything about them. When you get your papers, you find that you still have problems. This time you can do something about them but it takes you a while to realise that and to know what you should expect.

“I am now waiting for paperwork that confirms my five year leave to remain has been renewed so I am running between the job centre and my lawyer. It is a complicated process.”

Further Information

Emma Whitfield, Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Communications Manager, 07880 737157/ 0141 242 1415 email: emma.whitfield@biglotteryfund.org.uk
For information about Scottish Refugee Council and the other partners please contact Pauline Diamond or Karin Goodwin, Media and Communications Officers, 0141 223 7927 / 07850 930418.

For general information about Big Lottery Fund, Scotland go to our website www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/scotland, email: enquiries.scotland@biglotteryfund.org.uk or call: 0300 123 7110.

Notes to Editors

• The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £25 billion over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
• The Scotland Committee has been making Big Lottery Fund decisions on Scottish projects since March 2007.  As well as taking devolved decisions on Lottery spending, the Committee, led by Chair, Maureen McGinn, has and will continue to play a strategic role in the future direction of BIG in Scotland. 
• The Big Lottery Fund is investing in Scotland’s communities through its Investing in Communities portfolio, as well as the small grants schemes Awards for All, Investing in Ideas, Communities and Families and 2014 Communities.