The Strategy

The New Scots refugee integration strategy aims to support refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland’s communities. This includes people who have been granted refugee status or another form of humanitarian protection; people seeking asylum; and those whose application for asylum has been refused, but who remain in Scotland. While international law does not distinguish between refugees and asylum seekers, there is a distinction in UK immigration legislation, which means they have different rights and entitlements.

The key principle of the New Scots strategy is that refugees and people seeking asylum should be supported to integrate into communities from day one of arrival, and not just once leave to remain has been granted.

The outcomes and actions that the strategy seeks to deliver are grounded in an approach that places refugees and asylum seekers at the heart of the communities in which they reside. As such, it recognises that, for approaches to integration to succeed, they must be about working in and with local communities, as well as with refugees and asylum seekers.

The strategy recognises that refugees and asylum seekers are not a homogenous group. Although they are all seeking, or have been granted, sanctuary in the UK, they each have their own needs and aspirations. Their backgrounds, cultures, ambitions, experience and skills should be celebrated and viewed as assets, which can support their integration.

It is essential that all refugees arriving here, whether through the asylum process or resettled to Scotland, are treated with the same positive welcome, are able to understand and access their rights, and can thrive in their new homes. Statutory, third sector and community organisations all have a crucial role to play in making this happen.

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council


The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy is one of the world’s first and most established strategies for people seeking asylum or who have been granted refugee or humanitarian protection, under the auspices of the United Nations Refugee Convention. It is a source of pride to many living and working in Scotland. It was first established using the acclaimed model for refugee integration developed by Alastair Ager and Alison Strang and modified over time to offer a framework for the development of bridges and social bonds between arriving and receiving communities.

The first strategy ran from 2014 to 2017 and was refreshed and expanded in 2018 to run until 2022. In 2020 the New Scots partnership secured £5 million in funding from the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to enhance the implementation of the New Scots strategy.

The New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project (NSRIDP) was funded by this grant and led by the Scottish Government, in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) and the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (RILA) at the University of Glasgow. The project has sought to promote employability, education, health and social and cultural connections for refugees by funding over 50 projects across Scotland to spread best practice and promote new integration practices. It has also funded primary research into refugee integration in Scotland, which has included undertaking the first piece of comprehensive research and evaluation into the New Scots Strategy, as well as allowing for a systematic review of the academic and policy literature on refugee integration from 2014 to 2022.


Language & Education
Speaking English and making social connections often go hand in hand, building a sense of belonging and connection.
Health & Wellbeing
Everyone should be able to access well-coordinated health and social care services that recognise and meet their rights and needs.
Employability & Welfare
New Scots possess a wide range of professional and business skills. But the job market in the UK can be challenging to navigate.
Digital Inclusion
The pandemic taught us the necessity of access to digital tools and skills. With so many essential services accessible online, no one should be excluded or left behind.
Safe, secure, long-term housing is the foundation from which people can gain stability and access a range of services and activities to deepen their sense of belonging and engage in cross-community activities.
Community & Social Connections
Communities create the potential for collective action to respond to challenges and difficult times, and to build support structures that facilitate integration and a sense of belonging. These, in turn, can improve community safety and cohesion.
Art, Culture and Sport
Everyone should have the opportunity to take part in or contribute to cultural life in Scotland. Engagement in cultural activities provides many benefits including improving health and wellbeing, enhancing learning and skills, and strengthening social connections.
Legal Rights & Citizenship
Everyone should be supported to understand and access their rights and entitlements.

Project Partners