UofG Professor to chair Scotland’s refugee integration partnership and strategy

A University of Glasgow professor and human rights advocate will lead the partnership supporting refugees and asylum seekers rebuilding their lives in Scotland, it was announced today (1 May 2018).

Professor Alison Phipps will take over as the Chair of the New Scots Core Group at the end of this month.

New Scots is a partnership between the Scottish Government, The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Scottish Refugee Council, to help support the integration of refugees and asylum seekers in their new Scottish communities.

Angela Constance, the Equalities Secretary, said: “I am delighted that Professor Alison Phipps is to be the chair of Scotland’s second New Scots refugee integration strategy.

“Professor Phipps’ extensive knowledge and experience supporting refugees and asylum seekers will prove invaluable to New Scots partners.

“I look forward to working with Professor Phipps in her new role, as we strive to achieve the New Scots vision for a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive.”

Professor Alison Phipps takes over the chair, which is an independent position supported by the strategy’s key partners, from Dr Alison Strang of Queen Margaret University, who is stepping down.

Professor Phipps, the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts and Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University, said: “I am delighted to take up this role and to continue the excellent work of my predecessor Dr Alison Strang.

“The work of the New Scots group has been very innovative and led to major improvements for refugees, asylum seekers and receiving communities across Scotland.

“My own work in this field complements the New Scots approach to a holistic integration policy with some new dimensions focusing on languages and the arts.

“I am really committed to the participatory work Dr Strang and New Scots have built into the policy and know I will be learning greatly from the experiences of those who are expert integrators as New Scots and as Scots. This is a crucial time for embedding strong intercultural relations in Scotland and creating hospitable environments for all.”

A passionate advocate for refugees and people seeking asylum, Professor Phipps is a leading authority in both the academic and lived experience of refugees’ issues.

Professor Phipps’ foster daughter came to Scotland from Eritrea as an asylum seeker and her work has taken her to countries including Palestine, Sudan, New Zealand, Germany and America.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “This is a superb appointment for Professor Alison Phipps who has done so much to foster a culture of welcome in Scotland for asylum seekers and refugees.

“I wish Professor Phipps every success and have no doubt that she will bring considerable energy and expertise to this important work as we face unprecedented numbers of people forced from their homes across the world.”

Cllr Elena Whitham, COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Professor Alison Phipps will be taking on the role of Chair at this crucial time, as we embark on our work on the New Scots Strategy over the next four years.

“Alison brings a huge breadth of experience and energy to the work, which will be crucial in supporting partners to deliver the aspirations within the strategy. As local authorities we are very much looking forward to working with Alison, and with all of our partners, to ensure that refugees receive the welcome and ongoing support that will aid their integration in Scotland’s communities.”

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council said: “Alison was the first person to welcome me to Scotland when I knew no one else in the country. Her dedication to creating a culture of welcome and inclusivity is at the heart of the New Scots strategy. We look forward to continuing to work with Alison and our partners to make sure all New Scots are able to build positive and productive lives in Scotland.”

Dr Beth Taylor, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: “Congratulations to Professor Alison Phipps on this critical appointment. With its focus on fostering refugee integration through creative and cultural expression, the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts encapsulates what UNESCO is all about - building peace in the minds of men and women through intercultural understanding and collaboration. I am delighted that, through her new role, Alison can bring her expertise in this field to benefit Scotland and its refugee integration strategy.”

The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, which has been endorsed by UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, sets out a vision for how Scotland can welcome and support people to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive here. The New Scots strategy commits to better access to essential services such as education, housing, health and employment. It aims to help people settle, become part of the community, share their skills and pursue their ambitions.