Please click each section heading for the full text of that section.
In 2016, a variety of partners in North East Scotland recognised the need for a joined-up approach to understanding, monitoring and tackling inequalities between different ethnic groups in Grampian.* These discussions took place across a range of contexts: refugee resettlement, asylum seeker dispersal, community cohesion, Brexit, economic barriers, housing, health, education, and others.
*Note: Grampian refers to three local authority areas: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray. The Grampian region is used as a boundary by the NHS and Grampian Regional Equality Council; it is also sometimes used to deliver partnership working across local authority areas, e.g. Integrate Grampian and the Grampian Gypsy/Traveller Interagency Group.
Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migration
Historically, Glasgow has been the only ‘dispersal’ area in Scotland for asylum seekers, so experience of refugee resettlement was sparse beyond the central belt. While Glasgow remains the main local authority where asylum seekers are sent, in 2016-17 the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme brought refugees from Syria to all areas in Scotland, including Grampian. In 2021, refugees have begun to arrive from Afghanistan in a similar programme, and lessons learned over the past five years should have a positive impact on improving their experience.
Generally speaking, the process of resettlement has raised many questions about the support given to anyone, particularly vulnerable people, arriving in Grampian from abroad. Where formal resettlement schemes have been supported financially by the Home Office, most new arrivals – and those who seek to help them – receive minimal support, at best. There are also on-going discussions about the extension of asylum dispersal across all local authority areas – something that would likely have little or no additional funding attached. There has rightly been a focus on the legacy of the refugee resettlement work in terms of getting ready for asylum seeker dispersal, and more broadly ensuring that people arriving in Grampian are treated with dignity and are able to thrive.
Particular challenges are faced by Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young People. Those who settle in the North East from English local authorities like Kent come via the National Transfer Scheme, with resettlement and Looked After Children supports in place. Despite this, they still face isolation, disconnection from other young people, and limited contact with people who have similar lived experiences and cultural backgrounds. Those arriving in Grampian through other routes are even more isolated and vulnerable, with very little formal support.
Nationality and Borders Bill
As of December 2021, the Bill is in its second reading in the House of Lords. An extension of ‘Hostile Environment’ policies, it would dramatically restrict access to asylum in the UK, criminalise asylum seekers, remove safeguards for children and victims of human trafficking, introduce the option of sending refugees to other countries. It would also extend the ability to revoke UK citizenship from those born elsewhere. Serious concerns have been raised by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC), and others (UNHCR, 2021; EHRC; SRC).
Leaving the EU has been recognised as a game-changer, particularly in terms of business and cultural connections, and the security of European nationals (mainly Eastern and Central Europeans) living in Grampian. Anecdotally, there are increased incidents of verbal abuse, though these go largely unreported. There is also a concern around future rights, including residency, shared by many EU nationals who do not have UK citizenship.
Previously, questions have been raised around social cohesion and the extent to which there are positive relationships amongst Grampian’s diverse communities. These questions have come into sharper focus in the context of refugee resettlement and Brexit.
A range of academic and third-sector research has explored equality and ethnicity in North East Scotland. At a conference in November 2016, there was a sense that this research was informative, but not necessarily put to practical use. The conference highlighted the need to raise issues affecting marginalised communities with policymakers and others in a position to implement change.
All of the above point to a challenge for public bodies, the third sector and the wider population of Grampian. Are we effectively set up to engage, empower and support people from ethnic minority communities?* Do we have effective mechanisms to monitor discrimination, inequality and community cohesion? This document, developed in partnership through Integrate Grampian, is aimed at laying the basis for making progress in these crucial areas.
*Note: ‘Ethnic minority communities’ is used throughout to mean inclusive of European minorities, unless quoting the work of others who take a different approach.
Integrate Grampian is a multi-agency forum which arose from the significant overlap between two existing forums: Aberdeen Prejudice Incident Partnership and Integrate Aberdeenshire. As well as monitoring prejudice incidents and hate crime statistics in the Grampian area, the forum has worked together to develop a resource called Living and Working in North East Scotland. It is a downloadable resource translated into 7 languages which explains the basics of local and national services and how to access them. The group also developed and widely distributed a postcard in multiple languages with information about the resource.
In considering the issues laid out above, the forum agreed that it would be well placed to be a network where equality between ethnic groups and community cohesion/integration can be monitored (via this document); relevant local research can be shared and linked to the appropriate decision/policy makers; and priorities and areas of joint working can be agreed.
It was agreed that Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC) would take a lead on developing this document, with support from the SSAMIS project and other Integrate Grampian partners where appropriate.
‘Is Scotland Fairer?’ and Integration Framework
How Fair is North East Scotland? Integration & Community Cohesion draws on two frameworks as its foundation. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are required by the Equality Act (2010) to publish a triennial review of equality and human rights in the UK and Scotland. In 2010 the EHRC (UK) published How Fair is Britain? Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations, followed by a focused report on human rights in 2012, and a report on progress in 2015 called Is Britain Fairer?
How Fair is North East Scotland? also draws on the ‘Indicators of Integration’ Framework developed by Ager and Strang in 2004. The framework, which continues to be used by the Scottish Refugee Council uses the following indicators/areas:
- Markers and Means: Employment; Housing; Education; Health
- Social Connection: Social Bridges; Social Bonds; Social Links
- Facilitators: Language and Cultural Knowledge; Safety and Stability
- Foundation: Rights and Citizenship
We use this framework as a basis to explore a variety of relevant areas, whilst lifting the pertinent indicators from Is Scotland Fairer? and fitting them into the ‘Indicators of Integration’ Framework.
Layout of this Document
After summarising relevant demographic data, the document is divided into sections which correspond with the ‘Indicators of Integration’ framework above. Under each section, there is:
- Relevant local and/or Grampian-wide statistical data
- A note of any key data that is not presently available
- A summary of relevant local research
- An overview with recommended priorities
This is a ‘working document’ – the statistics and particularly the mapping of services will become out of date; however the aim is to provide an overview of the recent and current situation, with a view to identifying priority areas, best practice, and opportunities for joint working. In the online version, we aim to update links, statistics and other information as often as possible. If you are aware of any areas where more recent data is available, please let us know by emailing email@example.com.