From 2017 to 2019, we conducted focus groups with newly arrived Syrians in Scotland to introduce the ‘Musawa’ (which means ‘equality’ in Arabic). The Refugee Health Policy and Strategy Action Group built on the achievements of the Musawa project, a national project that engaged the ‘New Scots’ in discussing mental health issues.
The primary focus of the action group was to increase the engagement of refugees with the broader health and social care policy landscape in Scotland by building the refugees’ understanding of well-being and raising awareness of their mental health needs. This aimed to improve the representation of refugees and ensure that health and social care systems can address trauma and ill health issues.
We had three-year funding from the Scottish Government Promoting Equality and Cohesion Fund.
- Refugees living in Scotland are active advocates for mental health and well-being, both locally and nationally
- Local and national health and civic society agencies were engaged in prevention and support approaches to service planning and provision
- Statements and dialogues on mental health were initiated and led by refugees in spaces across Scotland
The three local authorities
We worked in three local authority areas to increase the engagement of refugee volunteers within their community and represent their lived experiences within local forums. We successfully established groups of volunteers in Glasgow, North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire:
This civic forum project offered an opportunity for increased dialogue around the representation of refugees and asylum seekers and allowed discussions about how they can tackle isolation in their new communities.
- North Ayrshire
Our volunteers connected with the Ayrshire Community Trust to design and deliver a gardening project alongside other volunteers from non-refugee backgrounds. This gardening project allowed communities to come together in a therapeutic setting, as research has shown that nature is good for your mental health. This project also created a space for volunteers to discuss their mental health and integration into their new country.
- North Lanarkshire
This project produced storytelling and posters to be displayed in public areas. These posters aimed to start conversations in local communities with a small refugee population and allow them to share their experiences.
Voices and visibility programme
The Voices and Visibility for New Scots is a new initiative funded by Glasgow City Council. The programme aims to increase the representation of refugees and asylum seekers within civic forums in Glasgow.
This 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.
Mental health resources for refugees and asylum seekers
Resources to assist refugees and asylum seekers with their mental health, with advice translated into other languages. This includes advice translated into Pashto (پښتو), Ukrainian (українська), Dari (دری) and Arabic (عربي).