Building good relations

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Co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

6. Building good relations

6.2 Understanding tensions

Where there has been an increase in migration into an area this can have a significant impact on the local community.  In some cases, tensions or divisions may develop, and these can impact on successful integration.  These tensions can arise for a number of reasons.  

It is also important to be aware that migrant ‘communities’ themselves are not necessarily homogenous, and may not be uniformly welcoming and supportive of other migrants. Tensions between migrants can arise around issues of nationality, religion, language, gender, age and sexuality.  

6.2.1 Language

Language is consistently cited as a major barrier to integration within local communities, and can also present an obstacle for migrants to use their qualifications and skills.  It is therefore important to encourage and signpost new migrants to ESOL courses that are available in their local area, as well as linking them to other community based and flexible language learning opportunities, for example, language cafes and buddy schemes.  Find out more about planning and delivering ESOL services in Chapter Seven of this toolkit.

6.2.2 Lack of trust

Lack of trust can be a real barrier to integration.  On the one hand, migrants may not trust services or professionals for a variety of reasons, linked to their culture, religion or experiences in their own countries.  Service providers need to be aware of this and look at ways of breaking down some of these barriers. On the other hand, lack of trust can also be an issue for host communities, who may feel threatened by the sudden arrival of migrants to their local area, or community and the resulting pressures – either perceived, or actual – that this can place on local services.  Finally, you should also be aware that some migrants might experience hostility and/or mistrust within, or between different migrant networks and groups.

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You can find out more about the Equality Act 2010 and the duty placed on public authorities to foster good relations here.

We seek to support councils in relation to their work to foster good relations, and the Public Sector Equality Duty more generally.  If you require any further assistance in this regard, please contact us or visit our website.

Case study

In 2010, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GCC) undertook a review of its asylum service provision.  This identified that there were gaps in care pathways for asylum seekers - as many were not engaging with primary care providers, and GP registrations were low.  As a result, demand was being shifted to secondary and emergency services.

In response to this, the Asylum Health Bridging Team was set up in 2013 to help improve access to NHS services in Glasgow.  The team provides a nurse led approach, where all asylum seekers are offered an initial health assessment when they arrive in the city.  The assessment is undertaken with support from interpreters and follows the 'sensitive enquiry' model.   From this, they are able to prioritise people with urgent or chronic health needs, who require immediate care and support. They also provide general information on how to access other NHS services.  

Following assessment, all asylum seekers are allocated to a GP practice and encouraged to register with the practice.  Each of the nurses in the team has a geographic patch within the city, and they work closely with GP practices within their patch - alerting them to potential new registrations and providing support to GPs and reception staff on asylum related issues where required.

The team also works closely with a range of other services and organisations – such as NHS GGC Community Mental Health Team, Freedom from Torture and Scottish Refugee Council.  Since the Asylum Health Bridging Team was set up, NHS GGC is aware (anecdotally) that GP registrations among asylum seekers have increased.  The 'one stop shop' approach provided by the Asylum Health Bridging Team seems to have worked well.  Asylum seekers are now more aware of how to access and use NHS services, and service providers, mainly GP practices, know where to get advice and support on asylum related issues.

6.2.3 Media coverage

Media coverage, particularly negative media coverage, can play a major role in influencing public attitudes towards migration.  Local councillors and other community and religious leaders have a vital role to play in shaping public attitudes to migration in their local areas, by developing positive communication strategies.  Developing local strategies and working with local press to develop balanced coverage can help to tackle this.  Find out more about strategic approaches to migration in Chapter Three of this toolkit.

Case study

Perth and Kinross have produced this leaflet to help improve relations between local communities and migrants, and to highlight the positive impact of migrants.

6.2.4 Cultural differences

Culture and religion can also have a significant impact on how different migrant groups are able to integrate within their local communities.  For example, some cultures have traditions about the social interaction of men and women. It may therefore be difficult for women to participate directly in community life.  There needs to be greater awareness of these cultural and religious differences among service providers and organisations that work with migrant groups.