Evaluation of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy in Scotland

This study explores what the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy achieved between 2018-2022.
Muslim woman smiling with two children

About the study

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-2022 was developed by the Scottish Government, the Convention Of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) and other partner organisations. The Strategy set out a vision for a welcoming Scotland where refugees and people seeking asylum are able to rebuild their lives and feel part of Scottish society from the day that they arrive. The Strategy aimed to support anyone working with refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland.

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-2022 committed to working towards achieving four broad outcomes:

  1. Refugees and asylum seekers live in safe, welcoming and cohesive communities and are able to build diverse relationships and connections.
  2. Refugees and asylum seekers understand their rights, responsibilities and entitlements and are able to exercise them to pursue full and independent lives.
  3. Refugees and asylum seekers are able to access well-coordinated services, which recognise and meet their rights and needs.
  4. Policy, strategic planning and legislation, which have an impact on refugees and asylum seekers, are informed by their rights, needs and aspirations. 

To help understand what the Strategy achieved between 2018-2022 the Scottish Government, commissioned the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen) and Matter of Focus to undertake an evaluation. The purpose of the evaluation was to:

  • understand what progress had been made in achieving the Strategy’s outcomes;
  • understand what factors helped to achieve the outcomes;
  • understand what factors made achieving the outcomes difficult; and 
  • understand what learning can be used to help with the development of the next version of the Strategy.


The fact that Scotland has a refugee integration strategy was warmly welcomed by those who were aware of it. The Strategy was felt to have led to greater collaboration and coordination between local authorities, the third sector and partners. Factors that helped the performance of the strategy included: funding from the Asylum Migration Integration Fund to create new projects and support existing ones; partnership working, the positive messaging of the Strategy, and commitment of people and organisations supporting refugees and people seeking asylum.

Factors that made implementing the Strategy challenging included: the COVID-19 pandemic, limited money and resources dedicated to implementation. However, measuring the direct impact of the Strategy was often difficult. While progress towards the outcomes was acknowledged, some stakeholders were ambivalent as to whether these outcomes would have happened without the Strategy. This was due to the close alignment of their organisations’ values with those of the Strategy and existing partnership working between organisations. Research participants also found it difficult to link an overarching Strategy with every activity or initiative happening at a local or project level. Nevertheless, stakeholders said that having a refugee integration strategy supported by the Scottish Government set a vision for Scotland to work towards collectively. Participants made a number of recommendations to increase the impact of the strategy going forward. These are outlined in full in the report.


ScotCen and Matter of Focus conducted a mixed method study consisting of:

  • Two Theory of Change workshops with individuals involved in the development and implementation of the Strategy.
  • A series of self-evaluation workshops with 12 projects working with refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. These projects were funded through the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).
  • An online survey of 250 people from organisations that work with or support refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland.
  • Interviews with 21 refugees and people seeking asylum living in Scotland.
  • Interviews with 30 people from local authorities, partner organisations, academics, and third sector organisations in Scotland that that work with or support refugees and people seeking asylum.