Fair Way Scotland is a partnership of third sector organisations which aims to combat destitution and homelessness among people denied access to support on account of their immigration status — a state of affairs driven by hostile UK Government policy.
The partnership works to provide people with safe housing in community-based properties, with linked cash payments, access to legal advice and other support. This helps people to regularise their immigration status and access work or statutory support where permitted.
Homeless Network Scotland’s new Programme Advisor Hazel MacIver shares her initial impressions of the programme and sets out how the determination and positivity of its partners, allied to the programme’s evidence-based approach, is achieving tangible results.
“It’s hard to believe that in this day and age it is actual government policy that some people who come to the UK are not allowed to access any state benefits but are also not allowed to work.
“I find it hard to comprehend because why would we design a situation which bakes in destitution as an outcome or drives people into the exploitative arms of people who are happy to make a profit from their misery?
“I understand the political pressures to limit access to state benefits but to also say you can’t work either? I find that incomprehensible. Which is why Scotland has Fair Way.
“It is a consortium of organisations that include Refugee Sanctuary Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council, Simon Community Scotland, Turning Point Scotland, Homeless Network Scotland, Joseph Rowntree Trust and I-Sphere (housing experts at Heriot-Watt University).
“All these organisations have their own boards, identities, funding etc and have come together under the joint umbrella of Fair Way Scotland to provide specialist legal advice, support and advice and a safe place to stay for people who are either destitute or on the cusp of it.
“But more than that, JRF and I-Sphere are involved to evaluate the work of Fair Way and gather hard data to better understand this policy area in Scotland.
“This isn’t just a ‘fluffy’ coalition doing nice things.
“For a start it is no mean feat to get a group of organisations working together in this way. It takes a massive commitment to stay together and work well together — it is far easier to split apart.
“And secondly, the evaluation and learning side of it gives it an edge that will hopefully inform how we can do things better in the future. Because there is a better way of doing things for sure than current UK government policy.”