Clackmannanshire Council’s Education Refugee Team were shortlisted for ‘Most Inspiring or Innovative Project Award’ in the Scottish Government and Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Quality Improvement Award.
All 32 Scottish Local Authorities are working tirelessly to help resettled refugees integrate in their new communities and it’s great news when this work is recognised.
Here, our friend Lynette Murray outlines just some of the hard work that led to this achievement.
Over the past two years Clackmannanshire has welcomed 20 Syrian refugee families into the authority. Data showed that these children and their families were finding it extremely challenging to adapt to their new surroundings and educational settings. All of these families were potentially very vulnerable due to communication barriers, social isolation and experience of trauma and loss.
Recognising these challenges and using quality improvement methodology to support the design, implementation and evaluation of the project, the Education Refugee Team was implemented to provide an innovative service delivery model to improve well-being and learning outcomes for all Syrian refugee families.
Clackmannanshire Council is delighted to announce that the Education Refugee Team has been shortlisted for a QI Award 2018– ‘Most Inspiring or Innovative Project Award’.
The project is partnership-based and has implemented a range of supports at different levels including:
- sensory-led, 1 to 1 well-being support for nursery & school aged children
- direct 1 to 1 EAL support
- Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- community integration events
- ESOL provision (formal and informal) for adults
- Employability support
- supported activity and homework programmes
- enhanced Primary 7 transition
- delivery of staff training in supporting refugee children
- ‘Circle of Friends’ groups
- Targeted youth work & holiday programmes
- Refugee mother & baby groups
The delivery of the numerous interventions have been delivered in a creative manner underpinned by the Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) approach which considers the stage of brain development, as opposed to the chronological age of the child by focussing on sensory regulation.
ESOL provision for Refugee adults has been supported by an onsite crèche, which focuses on structured and sensory play, ensuring attendance is possible for mothers. Additionally during the school holidays this crèche is also transformed into a play scheme which welcomes all children of all ages.
The successful development of this partnership model has embraced a holistic, needs led approach to build capacity amongst young people where vision and innovation are key.
The project has made a vast impact in ensuring refugee families’ well-being & learning needs are being met, and that they are being signposted for further support where necessary. It has been creative and ambitious at every opportunity, in driving forward change in outcomes for Syrian refugees integrating into Clackmannanshire and adapting to living in Scotland.
On June 11th the COSLA Migration team held a learning and networking event for ESOL tutors and coordinators from Scotland, and we were pleased to also welcome colleagues from Northern Ireland and England. Check out our Twitter Moment from the day. Learning event for ESOL https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Our colleague Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, reflects on the refugee journey and how their resilience and ambitions enrich our communities.
Imagine you have to leave your home and everything that you love without any notice.
Imagine you have to take a dangerous journey in your search for safety. Imagine you have to go through a complex foreign legal system. And then imagine adjusting to life in a strange country.
Life as a refugee can be difficult to imagine but for the 65 million women, men and children displaced around the world this is a daily reality.
There is a lot we can learn from refugees’ experiences and in particular the resilience and personal qualities needed to endure and overcome such difficult experiences; their tenacity, determination, the strength required to start again, to make new friends and build new partnerships.
I’m particularly interested in the lessons we can learn about leadership from refugees and their experiences.
At every stage of my own journey as a former refugee, not giving up and trying again has been a common theme. Some of the challenges I’ve faced as a refugee include living with the impact of family separation, living in temporary asylum accommodation, finding hope in a strange city, building new relationships, connections and warmth. One thing I have focused on throughout is helping other people find hope and developing objectives, strategies and tactics to do so.
At Scottish Refugee Council, the charity I am proud to lead, we highly value the potential refugees bring to their host communities. As an organisation working directly with refugees we have a clear strategic plan that will enable us to improve the protection, welfare and integration of refugees in Scotland and enable refugee voices to be at the heart of this work.
It is essential that leaders listen to the individuals and families rebuilding their lives in Scotland. Recently, along with colleagues at CoSLA and the Sottish Government we supported over 2000 people to add their views to Scotland’s national refugee integration strategy. The strategy itself, New Scots 2018 -2022, is itself a clear example of Scotland showing leadership as it welcomes its new citizens.
I am pleased that Scotland recently emerged top amongst European countries polled on the question of their confidence in refugees successfully integrating into their new community. This is in no small part due to strong political leadership and investment in refugee integration.
Leadership in this area of work is about understanding people and getting the best out of them. Refugees are only people like you and I with hopes and aspirations to rebuild their lives often shattered by war and persecution.
Their resilience and dreams for a better life can enrich us socially and economically.
However, there is, as always, still progress to be made. The UK continues adopt harsher asylum and immigration policies. In 2017 there were 26K asylum applications out of which only 29% were granted asylum. We invest more in enforcement than integration.
These developments perhaps are the first quantitative evidence of the hardening and hostile immigration policies of the UK government.
For those of us in the refugee support sector, this is not only distressing news, it is a setback for the UK’s global leadership and its commitment to the 1951 refugee convention.
Along with the restrictive asylum and immigration policies, the refugee support sector in the UK has also been affected by the public sector cuts.
But there are many shared values across the public and third sectors and, working together, we can give refugees – New Scots – a reason to hope.
Leadership is about forging new partnerships and adopting innovative approaches and finding unusual allies. As I reflect on my own journey what I find highly rewarding is turning my own experiences of hardship and suffering into hope and aspiration for others. If there is one thing we can learn from our refugee colleagues and friends it is to focus on the positive and turn adversity into strength. We must continue to cherish and safeguard the warm welcome that Scotland has always extended to people fleeing conflict, persecution and human rights violations.
Support our work: http://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk