Case studies

Case Studies

The Case Studies below are all contained within the various sections of the toolkit. However, for ease of reference, they are all replicated in this section.

In Edinburgh, new approaches to ESOL provision have been piloted. The local authority has developed new ideas around how to support parents with little or no English to take part in programmes which enable them to support their children’s learning and development.

It trialled the idea in one area, through dedicating 7.5 hours of an ESOL project worker’s time to supporting one parent to take part in a Raising Children with Confidence course at her children’s school. The approach involved summarising information about the course in advance both in English and in Urdu, with the information translated by the bilingual project worker in around 200 words. The individual then attended the Raising Children with Confidence course sessions and met with the project worker after each to discuss these. Some parents on the course also spoke Urdu, and were able to support the individual informally.

The approach was evaluated, and a paper was produced on what was learned. The evaluation was undertaken by the project worker, in consultation with the ESOL participant. The paper gave recommendations for the future, and advice on how this approach could be rolled out. It also highlighted an unexpected outcome, that another parent on the course has also found the English summaries welcome – and had translated them into her home language using a mobile app.

The approach is now being extended through providing small amounts of funding in six parts of Edinburgh. The approach is continuing to be evaluated, through discussion with participants, families and ESOL providers.

NSPCC explored the perspectives of parents from minority ethnic communities when evaluating its ‘Baby Steps’ programme.  The programme was designed to attract and engage with ‘hard to reach’ parents, including parents from minority ethnic backgrounds.  This report, summarising the findings of interviews with parents from a minority ethnic background, is one of a number of reports from the wider evaluation of the programme.

Find out more...

New Scots: Integrating Refugees in Scotland’s Communities is a national outcomes focused plan to support refugee integration.  It explores the needs of refugees and asylum seekers under clear priority themes; identifies links to national outcomes; and sets activities and targets over a three year period. It also identifies longer term or wider priority issues than need to be addressed outwith the life of the plan, which runs from 2014 to 2017.  Evaluation is built into the plan from the outset.

Health All Round in Edinburgh is a voluntary organisation which supports people to live longer, healthier lives.  It uses a community development approach to build physical, social and emotional wellbeing while building social capital and reducing inequalities. The organisation proactively aims to involve central and eastern European people in its work, and employs a community development worker to support social and cultural integration of migrants and help address health inequalities associated with this group.  It engages people through holding conversational English coffee mornings, and language cafes which are platforms for discussion on wider health issues.

Aura is Columbian and lives in Montrose.  She met her British husband in Columbia, and they moved to Scotland in 2005.  Although she worked as a primary school teacher in Colombia, she found learning English very difficult, and felt she needed to learn the language in order to integrate fully in the local community.

In 2012 she joined Angus Council’s ESOL class near her home, and has never looked back.

She described her tutor as ‘exceptional’ – he has used “different resources, including using visual aids, and I’ve learnt a lot. I now understand many things, including about expressions and attitudes. I am very happy now.” 

Aura also described her experience of learning to use the computer in the local library. She said that the teachers there are ‘extraordinary and patient’. She had no prior knowledge of using emails before going on the six months course, and can now communicate with relatives in her home country, as well as others. 

Aura would like to help other people with language learning, and is keen to continue with her ESOL classes. She meets lots of new people that she wouldn’t have been able to communicate with, if she hadn’t gone to the ESOL classes. She now feels that she is part of the community in Montrose, and would like to stay there. 

Highlife Highland runs a project to support migrant workers.  It has appointed a Co-ordinator within the Integrated Learning Communities team, to support inward migrants and their families.  The Co-ordinator offers signposting and guidance to services they may need to settle in Highland, as well as English language support.

Education Scotland has a case study on the support provided to a qualified doctor who arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker, to enable him to make the most of his existing skills and expertise.  

The City of Edinburgh Council’s, Community Learning Development team has developed a Speakeasy project that is aimed at secondary school pupils aged between 16-17 years.  The project has helped to build the confidence of young people by developing their English language and communication skills, and has also enabled them to integrate better within their local communities.  

Find out more…   

In South Lanarkshire, a family ESOL project has seen significant positive outcomes for parents and their children, including increased confidence in communicating with school staff and other parents, an opportunity to meet other second language speakers and support for children when moving to the next stage of schooling. 

Find out more…

Kulture Klub in West Lothian is supported by Voluntary Sector Gateway, West Lothian.  It aims to integrate young people aged 11 to 16, by breaking cultural barriers and creating a fusion of music, art, food and language.  It recently hosted a special event in Broxburn in 2015, which included Asian jewellery stalls, Arabic and Indian clothes, origami, Bhangra dancers, Punjabi Dhol drummer, Scottish bagpipers and drums and vegan, Indian and Pakistani foods.  One hundred and fifty people attended.  West Lothian Council plans to support the group to run further workshops and activities for young people in the future.

Translation and interpretation services are an important resource for migrants. However, some concepts and experiences are not always easily translatable and may require skills in intercultural communication. GRAMNet was involved in a 2-year collaborative project exploring the experiences of practitioners, interpreters and service users in clinical and non-clinical health care settings.  The project has produced a series of training videos, which provide an opportunity to engage with the complex realities of intercultural communication in practice. 

The level of communication, interest and engagement with migrants on an individual level can greatly impact on personal experiences.  Eman came to England four years ago.  Two years ago she moved to Scotland, having found the experience in England unsettling and unwelcoming.

The first local authority area she lived in was very welcoming.  Eman is always out and about, asking questions, contacting people and making connections locally.  In this local authority area, the council staff welcomed this and engaged well.  This council supported a strong local group for migrant communities, which opened up lots of opportunities for Eman, both locally and nationally.  

Eman has now moved to a new local authority area.  She approached the council to find out about opportunities for migrants and new citizens in the area.  She has tried a number of times to find out about the opportunities, but staff do not seem interested.  Eman believes that staff training is a big issue.  This reception means that Eman would consider moving out of this local authority area, if she was able.

“If we don’t feel supported or encouraged we will lose hope.  This really detracts from this area and puts you off.  You need to have a plan to recognise and appreciate migrants.”

Dance Ihayami is a Scottish based Indian dance company with its aesthetic roots in South Indian dance.  The company explores the structure, vocabulary and meanings that arise from this medium of dance.  Since 2009, it has extended its education offering to include music, and now offers classes in music and dance in Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.  In addition, their outreach programme covers both social and community work, and seeks to introduce people to Indian art forms, by making them more accessible to a wider audience.

The Edinburgh Mela started in 1995, as a celebration of the city’s South Asian communities, it has now grown into one of the biggest world music, dance and food festivals in the country. Mela means ‘gathering’, and it provides a meeting place, where all of the cultures and communities who call Scotland home can mingle, converse and bond over music, dance and wonderful food. The Edinburgh Mela is now part the Edinburgh Festivals collective.

Since 2000, the Scottish Refugee Council has been promoting an annual refugee festival week in Scotland to celebrate the positive contribution that refugees make to the richness and vibrancy of life in Scotland. The festival is co-ordinated by Scottish Refugee Council, working alongside a network of arts, community, voluntary and educational organisations, volunteers and supporters to produce an exciting Scotland-wide events programme.  You can find out more about this year’s festival here.

The Uniting Nations in Scotland (UNIS) project in Glasgow is run by volunteers and is helping to break down barriers and tackle racism faced by refugees when they arrive in Glasgow.  Since it was established, the group has grown and now has members from different backgrounds and nationalities - from Morocco to Sudan.  A police constable from Police Scotland has been working with the group to gain their trust.  Other volunteers meet regularly with refugees to help them fill out paperwork and to discuss their cases.  There are also social occasions, where families and individuals can meet up and share experiences.

Perth and Kinross have produced this leaflet to help improve relations between local communities and migrants, and to highlight the positive impact of migrants.  To celebrate the diversity of different migrant communities living within Perth and Kinross, the Council promotes a Multi-Cultural Events Programme that provides opportunities to bring together migrants and local communities to celebrate a range of different cultural events and religious festivals throughout the year.

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.

In Perth and Kinross, PKAVS Services for Minority Communities (the MEAD project) produces an annual Community Intelligence Report for the Council and other community planning partners.  This helps to influence service priorities for local minority ethnic and migrant communities.  The report presents the findings from work conducted by the MEAD project, looking at issues related to minority ethnic communities resident in Perth and Kinross.  It also highlights their needs, and any barriers they face when attempting to access local services. The report provides a detailed demographic breakdown of local minority ethnic communities in Perth and Kinross and those accessing MEAD’s services.  

Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership used Ketso to gather views from over 400 local residents and representatives from community groups who attended their annual community planning conference in 2011. Ketso was seen to be an effective and simple way to engage with a wide range of people, enabling them to express their views and have their say on future priorities for Renfrewshire. You can read more about Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership’s approach here.

We used a method called ‘Ketso’ to structure our engagement with migrants in our Migration Matters Scotland project.

‘Ketso’ is an engagement tool widely used in action research. It encourages participants to think about different research questions and contribute ideas and comments. Participants write their ideas on colour coded ‘leaves’ and by the end of the session, the ‘tree’ acts as a visual representation of the discussion.

We asked participants in the migrant workshops to consider their local area when writing comments on their leaves under the following headings:

 What works well?

 What doesn’t work?

 What are the barriers or obstacles to accessing services?

 What are the solutions to making the area better?

This method worked well, and made sure that as many people as possible could contribute to the discussion. Here is some of the feedback that we received:

“For a lot of people it was really engaging – more so than just asking people to write things down.”

“It helps everyone to contribute and makes it harder for one or two people to dominate the discussions.”

If you are using Ketso, it is worth making sure that plenty of time is allowed for discussion, as people need to fully understand the method, and what they are being asked to do. The method also involves an element of writing, and it is important to think through literacy and language issues before designing your engagement method.

You can find out more about using Ketso here.

Since 2008, NHS Grampian has been working closely with Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC) to undertake annual consultation events with local minority ethnic communities, as a way of gathering feedback on their experiences of using local NHS services. GREC provides facilitation support for individual involvement and consultation events, usually held in Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen (areas that have largest concentrations of migrant workers). NHS Grampian has found that over the years, the consultation events have provided a wealth of useful healthcare related information, as well identifying areas where further service improvements are required.

Translation and interpretation services are an important resource for migrants. However, some concepts and experiences are not always easily translatable and may require skills in intercultural communication. GRAMNet was involved in a 2-year collaborative project exploring the experiences of practitioners, interpreters and service users in clinical and non-clinical health care settings. The project has produced a series of training videos, which provide an opportunity to engage with the complex realities of intercultural communication in practice.

You can find out more about the project here.

Research in many areas has shown that being able to access language learning, and finding good, clear information about services, events and opportunities for local engagement can all present challenges for migrants. For example, current research by Glasgow University and Swansea University involving migrants living and working in the rural areas of Angus and Aberdeenshire, has found that even after several years, many have struggled to improve their English. This is due to a combination of a number of factors including: constraints of time and resources for language learning, and also working and living arrangements that provide few opportunities for close contact with Scottish co-workers, neighbours etc.

On the other hand, the research has found that where flexible provision is possible - through ESOL classes, and more informal approaches to language learning (including buddy schemes and language cafes) - this can provide opportunities for:

  • increased social interaction;
  • better information about local services;
  • access to support networks; and
  • opportunities for others to learn about migrants’ lives and experiences etc.

You can find out more about this research here.

Since 2007, Angus Council has been co-ordinating annual roadshows for migrant workers in Angus. A number of community planning partners also support and attend the roadshows, including Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Tayside, Dundee and Angus College, Women’s Aid and representatives from the Drugs and Alcohol Partnership. The roadshows are usually hosted by farms in Angus, where many migrants are employed as seasonal workers. Farmers often put on a BBQ, as this helps to encourage workers to come along.

The roadshows provide a useful forum for migrants to access information, including welcome packs, to find out about local services, and to raise any issues or concerns that they might have.

Service providers also benefit, as they get an idea of how many people are staying in the local area, how long they might be staying for, and how this might impact on demand for services in particular areas.

Police Scotland and the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service have been working with asylum and refugee groups in Glasgow. As part of this they have been giving talks on the law, and explaining where people might inadvertently break the law, due to lack of awareness of the law in Scotland. As a result of these roadshows, the Lord Advocate has committed to producing a simple information booklet for asylum seekers and refugees (in different languages) about the ‘dos and don’ts’ in relation to the law in Scotland. If successful, this might be rolled out to cover the wider migrant population.

NHS Tayside has recently launched this App - Money Worries? Crisis Help!

The App is designed for people who are affected by welfare benefit cuts, or other money worries. The content was developed by NHS Tayside Public Health staff to help reduce the negative health effects of welfare reform. The App will be promoted by Angus Council, as part of the annual roadshows that they organise for migrants working in farms in Angus.

In Perth and Kinross, PKAVS Services for Minority Communities (MEAD) works in partnership with the Council and other partner agencies to:

  • support the expanding migrant population in Perth and Kinross, to play a full and active role in their community, while helping statutory and voluntary service providers to respond more effectively to their needs.
  • provide a local authority-wide service, supporting migrant workers and minority ethnic carers and service users (those affected by long-term health conditions, disability or older age)
  • establish itself as the lead agency for minority ethnic issues within Perth and Kinross, and to facilitate consultation between service providers and targeted minority ethnic communities, to ensure services meet the needs of service users.

MEAD’s key client groups are from the local South Asian, Chinese and Eastern European communities.  Recent work has involved:

  • providing an annual Community Intelligence Report to the Council;
  • running a number of information and employment events to encourage the integration of new migrant communities across the area (particularly seasonal workers);
  • having a literacy partnership with the Council, delivering many ESOL services directly;
  • developing its own social enterprise for interpreting and translation called Language Base, which has enabled local migrants to gain skills, qualifications and employment opportunities; and
  • working closely with the Council on its multi-cultural events, and community lunch club programme.

MEAD also hosts regular surgeries and provides translation support for key council services, including Welfare Rights and Housing, to encourage access to these services from minority ethnic and migrant communities. 

In Fife, the Fife Migrants’ Forum is a not for profit organisation that is run by a committee and provides free help, advice, support, information and referrals for anyone who comes for an appointment. It also runs a volunteer programme, where volunteers can gain valuable experience and learn new skills.

Fife Migrants Forum runs a number of activities including:

  • Daily Advice Clinic - For free advice, information, help, support and referrals to mainstream service providers. 
  • A Job Club – this runs on a weekly basis, and is supported by Fife Council Client Action Team.
  • CARF Advice Clinic – a monthly dedicated advice clinic with help and advice from a Citizen Advice & Rights Fife advisor.
  • Kingdom Credit Union – a weekly collection point for Kingdom Credit Union.

Aberdeen City Council has taken a proactive approach to promoting Aberdeen as a positive destination, as a way of attracting economic migrants to the city.  As part of this, they have visited a number of countries across Europe (Poland, Latvia, Romania, France, Spain and Greece) and have taken representatives from the business community in Aberdeen with them.  They make it very clear to prospective migrants about what to expect, in terms of the cost of living in Aberdeen - high house prices and rental charges etc. They are also clear that potential migrants need to have the right transferable skills for the jobs market.  Aberdeen City Council also works closely with local employers to ensure that they are providing appropriate support to migrants workers who decide to move to the city.  For example, in the past, they have leased surplus council housing to employers, who then sub-let this (on a not for profit basis) to migrants.  This worked particularly well for migrants who had 'no recourse to public funds'.  However, currently they are unable to do this, as they have no surplus accommodation.

Since 2006, the Research and Information team at Aberdeen City Council has produced annual briefing papers on migrant workers in Aberdeen City and Shire. The purpose of these papers is to inform council services and community planning partners, and to assist with policy development and service delivery.  This briefing paper gives an indication of the scale of the inflow of migrant workers to the area. It looks at a range of factors: for example, the countries of origin of migrant workers; registrations in Aberdeen City and Shire compared with other parts of Scotland and several other key characteristics.

North Lanarkshire Council participated in the Gateway Protection Programme in 2007 and, to date, is the only local authority in Scotland to have received refugees through this scheme.  A total of 77 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo were resettled in Motherwell.  The scheme was generally deemed to be a success in terms of the level of integration of the refugees that was achieved and the multi-agency and inter-departmental approach that was set up to support the process.  Indeed, North Lanarkshire Council received the Creating Integrated Communities Award at the 2007 UK Housing Awards for the partnership approach it established.

However, the challenges faced by the refugees in accessing employment commensurate with their skills and qualifications, as well as issues associated with their broader integration into the local community and wider Scottish society should not be underestimated.

The University of the West of Scotland and Oxfam completed research in 2014 which revisited the North Lanarkshire scheme as a means of assessing longer term outcomes for the Congolese families that were resettled in Motherwell.  The research provides an interesting analysis of the barriers to integration faced by refugees.  It also provides useful insights and recommendations for councils considering participating in Gateway or, indeed, other humanitarian protection schemes. 

Between 2,000 and 6,000 asylum seekers have been dispersed to Glasgow each year since 2001. The council is no longer contracted to provide accommodation to asylum seekers. Since 2012 this contact has been delivered by the private sector provider Serco. However, the council continues to permit dispersal to Glasgow and asylum seekers are housed in a mixture of private and housing association properties across the city.

Glasgow has benefited from asylum dispersal in a number of ways. While dispersal has placed additional pressure on some council services – particularly since the city has ceased to be funded by the Home Office for the delivery of the asylum contract – asylum seekers have enhanced the city’s cultural diversity and their arrival has boosted the city’s population and age profile. Furthermore, the continued provision of some services (like schools) has only been viable because of the arrival of asylum seekers in areas that were previously in decline. There have also been reports that the presence of asylum seeker children – and indeed migrant children more generally – may have raise educational attainment because of the value that many of their families put on learning. Further analysis in this regard is provided in a research paper that we commissioned in 2013 on the impact of migrant children in Glasgow schools. The report and executive summary can be accessed by clicking here.

We hosted a workshop with migrants from across Scotland, and people working with migrants. At this session, in February 2015, migrant participants told us about the things that were most important to them when considering moving to an area. Where possible, we have hyperlinked these points to other relevant parts of this toolkit.

Services and support

Good schools


Translation services

English classes





Employment and job security

Places and courses to study

Vibrant local economy

Accessible and available housing

Good quality private rented housing

The place

Open spaces and greenery

Local history

Sense of belonging


Friendly and welcoming people

Well planned places

What local authorities can do

Signpost migrants

Advise migrants of rights

Encourage employers to support migrants

Provide good links and transport

Encourage new business start ups

Govanhill has always been a popular area for people coming to Glasgow to settle. The population has regularly changed and diversified as people from outside Glasgow choose to live there - people from the Highlands of Scotland; from Ireland; Jewish people fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe; people from the Punjab and other parts of the Indian sub continent; and, most recently Roma from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria.

This has resulted in Govanhill having probably the most ethnically diverse population in Scotland.

In 2010, around 40% of the population of Govanhill was made up of minority ethnic people. Its population has risen by almost 15 per cent between 2001 and 2010,w while in one small part of Govanhill (one datazone), the population has grown by 46 per cent. This substantial population growth is not matched by a growth in the number of residential properties.

Figures from schools in Govanhill show that there are 57 different languages spoken by their pupils. English is the home language of just 4 per cent of pupils in Annette Street Primary.

In Govanhill, there are serious issues with housing – including poor condition private properties and severe overcrowding. There are also some concerns about how to balance the needs of newly arrived and more established communities. However, there are active community organisations with a strong commitment to support communities, and public sector organisations are working in partnership to try to address the challenges. Work has also been undertaken to involve communities in management of the neighbourhood, which is summarised in this report.

Perth and Kinross Council has a robust equality and diversity structure and approach within the Council. It has a Community Equality Advisory Group, involving over 60 organisations and individuals from across Perth and Kinross representing each of the equality characteristics. It is chaired by an elected member who leads on equality work. This elected member is a ‘Champion’ for equality and diversity, and works to build positive attitudes towards migration. The elected member speaks out publicly about how much the council welcomes migration and how it enriches communities.