Our event ‘Sanctuary, Solidarity and Social Capital: Supporting refugees through community development’ was held on 22 March 2016, in the Renfield St Stephens Centre, Glasgow. A range of people from local authorities all over Scotland, many third sector organisations and interested individuals attended.
Three priorities were reported from each table discussion on “What do we need to do to improve community development practice and outcomes in this field?”
A. Settling groups of refugees in an existing community: Jonathan Smith, North Lanarkshire Council and Petrit Shala, Scottish Refugee Council
In 2007, 77 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo were resettled in Motherwell as part of the Gateway programme bringing refugees with agreed refugee status from UN camps in Kenya. There are key similarities between this programme and the current Syrian programme bringing refuges to many parts of Scotland. This workshop explores what lessons can be learnt which could inform settlement and integration work for refugees arriving now. It will reflect on the experiences of the agencies supporting the programme and of refugees themselves and the lessons learnt for supporting new Syrian refugees arriving in North Lanarkshire now.
Reports mentioned in session: ‘In North Lanarkshire, they decided to keep us safe’: the Gateway Protection Programme in Motherwell Research report to North Lanarkshire Partnership by Duncan Sim and Jane Gow
The Long Term Integration of Gateway Protection Programme Refugees in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire Report No. 1 (external link), UWS-Oxfam Partnership, Collaborative Research Reports Series by Duncan Sim and Kait Laughlin
B. Working with refugee women – gender and the refugee experience: Fiona Ballantyne and Elaine Connelly, Scottish Refugee Council
A participative workshop describing the Scottish Refugee Council’s Women’s Project, which works to support the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group, a group of refugee and asylum seeking women, to represent their views to key decision makers in order to influence policy and practice. The discussion will provide an opportunity to discuss the community development role in supporting RWSG to tackle key issues for women around asylum, integration and gender based violence, the impact of this work and the extent to which ‘institutions’ have responded to the insights and aspirations of refugee and asylum seeking women as well as providing an opportunity to consider and explore practice issues in relation to working with refugee and asylum seeking women.
C. Settlement and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in communities – lessons from Glasgow: David Reilly SCDC and Govan & Craigton Integration Network and Florence Dioka, Central & West Integration Network
Glasgow has nine Integration Networks spread across the City; organisations established since 2000 to coordinate local responses by community groups, volunteers and agencies to the needs of asylum seekers and refugees in the city. Integration Networks provide a structure for the involvement of the voluntary sector in community developed services like information and advice, English classes, drop-ins, children and adult services and anti-poverty work. Come to this workshop to hear about the successes and challenges of this approach and to discuss and questions whether this model might work in your area and, if appropriate, what support would be needed.
D. The Syrian Refugee Dispersal Programme – challenges and opportunities: Mick Doyle, SCDC and contributions from local government and BEMIS
This workshop is aimed principally at colleagues engaged in the Syrian programme resettlement sites locally. There will be invited and (hopefully) spontaneous exchanges of experience from local authorities and from BEMIS’ work with Syrian refugees. It will consider how community development principles and practice are influencing the work, and the extent of CD involvement in local planning and delivery. It will explore common themes emerging across the areas and consider how community development can help ensure that local planning is shaped by the voices of refugees themselves. Lessons from the workshop will be shared with colleagues in national planning structures supporting the programme as a whole.
E. Engaging with Trauma: Norma McKinnon, Freedom from Torture
Torture Survivors will have experienced life threatening events that may have profound consequences on their psychological wellbeing. Psychological Trauma can lead to many personal difficulties to be overcome that can affect an individual’s ability to relate and engage. However for many engaging in activities to achieve change in their circumstances is a cornerstone to supporting recovery and wellbeing. Community Work has a crucial role to play in building the resilience of survivors and supporting them to come together, identify issues of common concern and take forward an agenda for change. This workshop, facilitated by Freedom from Torture, will discuss the nature of psychological trauma and explore engaging with people who are experiencing psychological distress towards recognising the many skills, competencies, commitments, beliefs and values, that will assist them to work together to reduce the influence of external problems as they rebuild lives in exile.