Lead Organisation:
Rock Trust
Award Amount:

Through our project we intended to recruit and support 10 ‘Glasgow Shared Living Volunteers’. The successful candidates would reside in student accommodation (Fresh Student Living, Nido and Canvas) in close proximity to the young people identified for the service.

Volunteers would complete training sessions related to the role. The training provided would cover “an introduction to working with UASC”, child protection, effective communication, professional boundaries and mental/psychological first aid when supporting UASC. We would include the Scottish Guardianship Service, Glasgow City Council and The Anchor Project in delivering the training.

The service would provide an online support platform via WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams. We would distribute readers, TED talks and other relatable material that will enhance their development. The volunteers would have access to the Rock Trust’s emergency on call service (phone support).

New Scots reached

Key Information

Our project aims were for:

  • Young people to receive one to one support from another student who would act as a mentor to them
  • Young people to be taken to key places around the city and given a wider sense of where they are and how to navigate Glasgow city and Scotland and the UK
  • Young people to be actively taken to resources and signposted to resources that will widen their contact with others who are outwith their first language group
  • Young people to have their peer flat mate living in the same flat or just down the corridor and they will be visited/contacted very regularly. The young people would be able to contact the peer flat mates when they need support too


Key Information


Glasgow City Council, The Scottish Guardianship Project (Aberlour Trust), The Anchor Project, Glasgow City Host family service, Fresh Student Living

Geographical reach



01/11/2021 –  30/11/2022

Target Groups

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Project Type

Supporting innovation


We currently have over 100 unaccompanied asylum seeking young people living in student accommodation across the city. Many of the young people who choose to move into student accommodation naturally gravitate towards other young people from the same country and, whilst it can be supportive (and vital) for the young people to have these connections, it can narrow the circle of contacts that they have down to quite a limited number of other young people who share the same language.

Some other young people have (particularly during COVID restrictions) also become quite isolated whilst living in studio flats, and some suffer poor mental health due to social isolation and loneliness. Finally, some of those young people who only move in their own first language circles fail to acquire a level of English language skills that will help them to progress in a way that will enable their independence. Young people who are living in these circumstances need help to `bridge across’ and to help them towards full citizenship, to widen their social circles and they need help to connect with social, sporting and cultural opportunities that will enrich their lives.

Involvement of New Scots in project

As the funding was for a year, we did not have an opportunity to involve our target group in the planning or implementing of the service. If the project had continued funding, we would look to consult the beneficiaries on how they would shape the service.

We did consult with volunteers and young people with what main areas the project would focus on in terms of support. This was achieved by volunteers building relationships with young people and asking what common issues affected them on a regular occurrence. The drop in sessions provided a platform for young people to explore what support they would benefit from – allowing staff and volunteers to set up workshops for young people to attend and learn.


The original specification of the project, visualised volunteers and young people living together, providing mentorship and supporting them with their English and practical skills within their living space. It became clear early on that this format would be unrealistic, partly due to the late start of the project that was deep into the academic year. Fortunately, most of the residencies were close together, geographically, so even though they were not living together the young people were still offered support and mentorship onsite with regular access to staff and volunteers. The project maintained a heavy/consistent presence within all accommodation providers to make sure young people accessed support when needed.

There were other challenges, including the loss of our main project sponsor due to ill health, this presented a challenge when approaching other parties and building relationships with the residencies, social work teams and the Guardianship service. Had they been available to facilitate some of these introductions then it may have been a quicker and a smoother process to get things in place. 3-4 months of the years focussed on the recruitment/training of volunteers and information to go out to teams regarding purpose of the support and identifying target group.

Challenges encountered

Add details about the project here and replace this with content about the project. Add details about the project here and replace this with content about the project.


Add details about the project here and replace this with content about the project. Add details about the project here and replace this with content about the project.

The difficulties of taking on a new approach (innovative)

One of the biggest differences the project had made is the provision of a human touch to dealing with the young people by providing informal face to face contact. The varied experience and quality of volunteers we recruited has enabled us to achieve some significant successes. This was so important for our target group as they were able to build positive relationships with our international volunteers who were able to show empathy and relate to the young people in strange/new environments. The volunteers would take the time to explain the differences living in Scotland and accentuate the positives about staying in Scotland and the opportunities that could arise.

The Rock Trust’s approach is to provide a person-centred, trauma informed approach when working with the young people. Our unique approach was to offer informal face to face support based within the young person’s environment at times they need it. Staff and volunteers were fully trained in this approach and aware of issues affecting young people who have/currently experienced traumatic events.


We believe there is a well of untapped talent within the student community that would be willing to offer help and support to fellow young people. We have had overwhelming success with our international students who can understand what it takes to settle into an unfamiliar environment. Learning from their peers, whilst settling into their accommodation, has proven to make the transition more positive. Through the process of group living, we would continue to support the beneficiaries of this project to have natural opportunities to converse in English daily, whilst meeting new people from out with their own first language community.

We would look to recruit a much larger pool of volunteers available to help with on one off tasks. An example of this would be volunteers helping young people to settle into their accommodation, show them where and how to use the on-site facilities and register for Wi-Fi. There would be more opportunities to attend workshops on specific items such as provisional driving license applications, Young Scot Card applications or bursary applications. Students will be more confident/knowledgeable in dealing with these tasks, working alongside support staff and the Young Asylum Seekers Children & Families Team to gain evidence to support applications. We worked with 37 young people over the term and with continued support, we feel we could reach more young people.

Through reflection with our key partners, Rock Trust would propose to provide an additional ‘outreach’ service which would support unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people living out with student accommodation. Volunteers will be involved in this aspect, supporting young people who may feel isolated, lonely or who are struggling with integration in their community.

We have created an evaluation video – this highlights the learning and successes of the project.

Project Partners