Support arranged ahead of arrival in Scotland.
Refugees can now organise financial support for family members before they are reunited in Scotland.
Up to £100,000 in Family Reunion Crisis Grants will smooth the path for new arrivals, bridging the gap before they can be assessed for benefits entitlement.
The grants provide assistance with initial living costs as well as essential items, such as beds, for those arriving in Scotland under family reunion rules.
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said:
“Too many people arriving in Scotland under family reunion arrangements are forced to start their new life in abject poverty because they cannot apply for support until they arrive here. When you consider that these people have been separated from their families, have fled their home – often under threats of violence and death – that is not acceptable.
“Scotland is a welcoming country and we want everyone who chooses it as their new home to be able to do so with a sense of safety, security and hope for their future here. We firmly believe in supporting refugees from the day they get here and these grants are an example of how we can provide practical support for people to get back on their feet and take their place as valued members of our communities.”
Phil Arnold, Head of Refugee Support for the British Red Cross said:
“Being with family is one of the most basic instincts that people have, and this is no different for refugees. By introducing grants for newly reunited families, we can make sure they face a more certain future together, and remove the risk of refugee families falling into destitution or homelessness.
“Families with children are especially more likely to experience problems because of the longer time it takes to process Child Tax Credit compared with other benefits and because they usually need to move to larger accommodation. This is a real risk and it is particularly concerning because they place additional strain on reuniting families at a critical time recovering from their individual and collective ordeals, when the family just wants to get on and rebuild their home and family life together in Scotland.”
Hadgu was separated from his family for three and a half years before they arrived in Scotland in March 2018. He said:
“Nothing makes me happier than to be reunited with my wife Helen and my three daughters. The Red Cross have been great supporting me with crisis grants and have been helping me find new accommodation as we’re now over crowded in our small flat.”