Lead Organisation:
Faith in Community (Scotland)
Award Amount:

Through Faithful Welcome, Faith in Community Scotland (FiCS) and Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR) worked in partnership with local faith groups in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland. Faith groups were be empowered and equipped to actively involve refugees and asylum seekers in community life and to play a key role in two-way integration. Ultimately, this contributed to refugees and asylum seekers being an integral part of community life, with strong social connections, leading fulfilling lives and being confident about using their own gifts and skills to contribute to community life, as well as having their needs met. The project managed to:

  1. Scope existing work by faith groups working with refugees and asylum seekers, and identify gaps and support needs.
  2. Provide education and awareness-raising about the issues facing people in the asylum system amongst faith groups not yet involved.
  3. Provide capacity building for faith groups establishing new work or developing existing work through the provision of training, funding advice, volunteer exchanges between faith groups, and possibly micro-grants (from Faith in Community Scotland’s resources).
  4. Share good practice through the production of toolkits and case studies highlighting good practice on integration and the provision of networking opportunities.
New Scots reached
Key Information

The aim of the project was to equip and build the capacity of faith groups. This work complements that of other existing charities working in the field and ultimately provides wider community support for refugee charities and closer partnership working across faith groups.

Key Information

Project Partners


Geographical reach

Across Scotland


01/09/2021 – 31/10/2022

Target Groups

Religious refugees and asylum seekers

Project Type

Spreading good practice


FiCS is a community development charity which builds movements for change led by people and groups who experience poverty on a daily basis. We do this by working collaboratively with, and providing resources for community anchor groups, including faith groups, as well as through the Poverty Truth Community which brings people with lived experience of poverty together with decision makers in Scottish public life so that together they can seek to bring about systemic change. We build learning and peer support networks and provide bespoke support such as business planning; governance; mentoring and coaching for local leaders; volunteer development; funding; community mapping.

SFAR is a multi-faith partnership project hosted by the Church of Scotland. We co-ordinate and promote action by faith communities in Scotland to support asylum seekers and refugees. Our vision is that Scotland is a safe place where refugees and asylum seekers feel welcomed and included and faith groups have played an integral part in enabling this.

We decided to work in partnership because of our strong shared values, our commitment to people experiencing poverty including people in the asylum system, our belief that ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us’ and because we both have a good track record in supporting local communities to take a lead in bringing about change.

Involvement of New Scots in project

The participation of refugees and asylum seekers in our project was enabled throughout the project.

A primary way was through our reference group which meets regularly. Through the reference group, New Scots actively shape our project.

We hosted several focus groups with New Scots and the findings of these are outlined in our Somebody Reaches Our report.

We invited New Scots to be part of the planning of the Love without Limits Gathering. We had a couple of planning meetings and New Scots actively shaped the content of the Gathering. In addition, the main focus of the Gathering were the contributions of refugees and asylum seekers. Three of our main speakers were people with lived experience of the asylum system and New Scots were also leading two of the workshops for participants.

Our toolkit (Faithful Welcome videos) include the voices of 3 people with lived experience alongside three faith communities.


There are several areas of our project that will have a lasting impact.

  1. The Faithful Welcome videos will be used far beyond the lifetime of this project. We are already finding creative ways to use them in our work over the next years. And, of course, they are available for use by local communities for years to come.
  2. Our partnership: FiCS and SFAR have developed a strong and positive partnership which will continue beyond the lifetime of the project. We are currently in a process of shaping our future ways of working and exploring ways to fund work going forward.

Relationships with faith groups and New Scots: through the project we have deepened existing relationships and developed new relationships with faith groups and new scots which will outlast the project and which we will continue to nurture and support and engage with.

Challenges encountered

The uptake of the awareness raising programme was slower than anticipated. Lack of capacity, rather than lack of interest seemed to be the main reason for this. There is a particular interest amongst members of faith communities, but faith leaders seem to lack capacity to put something in place.

A challenge was also a start of the Ukraine war where much attention shifted towards emergency responses. It was important to navigate competing priorities carefully. What has been particularly impressive has been the way faith communities have stepped up to support Ukrainians in every part of Scotland. SFAR has been able to employ someone to work particularly to support churches working with Ukrainians and there is a positive working relationship between them and the Faithful Welcome project team.


We decided offer a public awareness event that is held online and open for any member of a faith community to register. This approach worked well and, overall, we still managed to host 17 events which is a positive result within 9 months.

We have been building on the interest amongst faith communities in supporting Ukrainians, and encourage them to support refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds where this is possible.

How the project has expanded on existing examples of good practice

We were able share examples of good practice and are embedding them in work as we go forward as we will be continuing this way of working.  Organisationally, it has been really enriching for us to work intentionally in this field and we have developed new relationships with faith communities previously unknown to us and individuals who have experience of the refugee and asylum system.

The difficulties of taking on a new approach

It takes time to build trust and rapport with vulnerable groups and individuals and what was new for us was at times challenging to grasp the precise shape of.


Whilst our engagement with groups was very positive, we would have hoped for deeper engagement from some groups. Given the restructuring in some faith groups, some leading to existential questions, there was little capacity for some to think beyond their situation. Nevertheless, these groups were contacted and informed about the project. An example of this is the Gathering where a larger number of asylum seekers and refugees attended than anticipated, but fewer faith groups than hoped for. Throughout the project we tried new and creative ways to reach our target groups, a number of which were successful (e.g. organising public meetings and approaching people with very specific requests and pieces of information.).

Our work is also deeply relational and building trust and rapport takes time. Completing such a project in just over a year was very ambitious and we have achieved a lot in this timescale. We will now be able to build on and continue the relationships we have built.

Further information

Over the summer we published our Somebody Reaches Out report. Somebody Reaches Out presents the findings of a process of engagement with New Scots – asylum seekers and refugees – in Glasgow, and staff and volunteers from faith communities across Scotland working with and alongside them. The title comes from a quote from one volunteer reflecting on the difference made when, “somebody cares, somebody reaches out, somebody smiles”. This process took place from February to June 2022.

The findings provide learning for faith communities and the programme about what a faithful welcome looks like from the perspective of refugees and asylum seekers, and which barriers and challenges faith communities face when seeking to support New Scots. It can be accessed here:

The findings are relevant for other communities as well. They highlight the importance of faith and faith communities in the integration process. The report was shared widely with faith communities, academics and other stakeholders.

Over the last months we have also worked on our Faithful Welcome videos (details described above). These provide learning for faith communities but also the wider sector. They help communities understand the role of faith communities better and the role faith can have in supporting integration. These videos will be shown in local communities to enhance learning. They will also sit alongside some study questions for instance.

Project Partners