Elevate: amplifying the voices of refugees and asylum seekers

Location: Scotland

The 'Elevate' programme amplifies the voices of refugees and asylum seekers in decision-making processes across Scotland, and works to increase the understanding of their lived experience within key public bodies and third-sector organisations.

Funded by the Scottish Government we work closely with transport, health and social care, education and policing organisations to ensure that one of the most marginalised groups in society is encouraged to contribute to the processes that help improve public services.

Refugee communities will be supported by increasing their capacity to be in decision-making spaces, such as civic groups, which are often predominated by mostly white Scottish communities.

Graphic of a woman talking

What is the aim of the 'Elevate' programme?

The programme aims to increase the representation of people from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds in decision-making processes within transport, health and social care, education and policing across Scotland.

We aim to make Scotland a welcoming country where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive. This involves a long-term, two-way process based on a positive change in both individuals and host communities, which will lead to cohesive, diverse communities.

What is our approach?

The 'Elevate' programme operates on a combination of two approaches:

1. We will work directly with the refugee and asylum-seeking communities to build their skills, confidence and knowledge so that they genuinely feel they can participate effectively.

We are inviting refugees and asylum seekers to volunteer and participate in civic groups. They will receive accredited training that covers the key principles of participation and empowerment to support the volunteer refugees, and help them feel confident about their participation.

Our aim is that these people can become role models in the refugee communities, and we plan to produce resources that make their position as role models known within the communities. The intention is that they will become the people that other refugees can turn to if they are experiencing any issues regarding education, policing or other areas.

2. We will work with institutions to make them aware of how to work with the issues and trauma experienced by refugees and asylum-seekers.

To do this, we offer organisations tailored training, workshops and presentations to their staff.

We continue to work in partnership with organisations within transport, health and social care, education and policing. We plan to deliver training on equality, unconscious bias, coaching and mentoring, so they can best support refugee communities to become part of civic groups.


We have created posters that share the stories of refugees and asylum-seekers as part of an exhibition, ‘This is What Hope Looks Like’.

These stories will offer hope to other refugees and asylum-seekers, and provide a better understanding into how their mental health has been affected by fleeing their homes and seeking sanctuary in Scotland. The posters will be displayed in community venues to dispel the myths and stereotypes about the lived experiences of refugees and asylum-seekers.

We also regularly produce mental health resources in key languages to help build an understanding of mental health in the refugee and asylum-seeker communities.

Graphic of a mother, father and young child

Refugee communities: increasing voices and visibility on Parents Councils

Learn more about how we encourage refugees and asylum seekers to join Parent Councils at their children's school with a buddy system.
Watch the video
Refugee communities: Increasing voices and visibility on Parent Councils

Download the Elevate poster

How to get involved

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker - we are inviting people from a refugee or asylum seeker background to volunteer with the 'Elevate' programme to participate in civic groups and raise issues.

You can find out more about this with our poster below or register your interest to volunteer with the 'Elevate' programme.

If you work in transport, health and social care, education or policing - we would welcome the opportunity to discuss a potential partnership. Please [email protected] .

For more information, please email Mahdi Saki (Programme Development Officer, Refugees and Asylum Seekers).
Email Mahdi

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