With thousands of refugees reaching Europe’s shores this summer, Scots are fundraising, donating and offering to rehome those fleeing from war-ravaged areas.
The generosity of Scots has helped provide vital financial and material aid to those fleeing conflict, the Scottish Refugee Council has warned that goodwill alone is not enough to deal with the logistics of resettling refugees in Scotland.
The independent charity’s Policy Officer Graham O’Neill said: “Scottish Refugee Council are delighted by the overwhelming support that people across Scotland have demonstrated in so many ways over the past few weeks to welcome refugees. Whereas it is simply fantastic that so many people have offered to open up their homes to refugees, what the women, men, and children from countries like Syria, Eritrea, and Afghanistan need more than anything is housing, health, and other public services so that they can start to build their new lives in Scotland.
“The First Minister’s Refugee Taskforce has recognised this and is taking the right approach. We are confident that local people across Scotland will warmly welcome and introduce their new neighbours when they do arrive.”
The Scottish Refugee Council aims to help refugees integrate into their communities by providing general information for asylum-seekers. It has hosted grassroots vigils in Edinburgh, Glasgow , Aberdeen and Dundee to express solidarity for those who have lost their lives attempting to reach Europe, with a demonstration in Glasgow’s George Square earlier in September .
The Council has also published a ‘How you can help’ guide recommending that volunteers lobby their local MP, join live events supporting refugees and sign petitions to effect change.
Those who donate a minimum of £15 to the Council will be given an ‘Aye Welcome Refugees’ t-shirt as part of their 30th Anniversary celebrations. Money donated will be put towards refugee representation and assistance throughout the country.
The Scottish government has collaborated with the charity to create Scotland Welcomes Refugees - a voluntary organisation which allows Scots to provide “practical support” and find out more about volunteering in their area. Their website, created in September, acts as a portal to many recognised charities such as Oxfam, Amnesty International and Mercy Aid and is an attempt to increase the effectiveness of individual donations through collective action.
Scottish Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf said: “This new website will provide an important addition in marshalling Scotland’s efforts in our concerted and organised response to this refugee crisis.
“Scotland is happy to take a 10 per cent share of the total number that come to the UK and we again urge the UK Government to do more and increase their numbers.”