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Charities urge Scottish government to set up peer support network for asylum seekers

CHARITIES have urged the Scottish government to set up a peer support network for asylum-seekers facing destitution.

The British Red Cross and the Refugee Survival Trust published a report today on preventing the most extreme poverty for those seeking asylum in Britain.

Asylum-seekers, the report said, often suffer the worst poverty in the first six months of their time in Britain due to language issues, delays to support and being moved repeatedly between accommodations.

The charities said that a Scottish government-sponsored peer support network would allow people going through the system to seek advice and support from people with similar lived experience.

Phil Arnold, head of refugee services in Scotland for the British Red Cross, said: “Across the UK, people seeking asylum have made positive contributions to their communities and play a valued role where they live. We must listen to their voices represented in this report.

“We are therefore calling on the Scottish government to establish and fund a pilot peer support system that will ensure new arrivals are able to access support, guidance and friendship from people who have shared experiences of navigating the asylum system.

“This must be part of a package of reforms to prevent destitution, including action from the Home Office to establish the right to work and an initial cash grant so people can purchase clothing, phones and other essential items.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said that no-one should be made destitute because of their immigration status, but that the relevant powers remain reserved. 

The Home Office said that Britain had a proud record of supporting asylum-seekers. Is said that the right to work for asylum-seekers was a complex issue that is under review. 

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