Based in Aberdeen, Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC) is a small charity that has been working to promote equality, reduce discrimination, and foster positive relationships among diverse communities in North East Scotland for over 35 years.
Over the past year, GREC has seen a significant increase in the demand for their services, having supported more than 200 individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds due to Aberdeen’s diverse population growing steadily with Afghani refugees resettling in the City and people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
For many refugees who have fled war, persecution, and violence, reaching Scotland is a huge relief. However, leaving everything behind and starting over in a new country can be overwhelming and stressful. The emotions that come with leaving behind one’s home, friends and family can be unimaginable. It can be a daunting prospect to navigate this new land with a completely different culture, language, and lifestyle.
GREC often encounters people who have experienced significant trauma. Sadly, this can greatly affect their ability to adjust to new surroundings, make connections and access services. Many are living in challenging conditions, with extended stays in hotels limiting opportunities for meeting others. Being separated from loved ones and familiar surroundings has a profoundly negative impact.
To enable GREC to reach more people needing support, they applied to Bank of Scotland Foundation for funding to expand their Casework service capacity. The charity was awarded £18,200 from January 2023’s Reach programme, enabling them to offer 1-2-1 support to between 60 and 100 New Scots (refugees and asylum seekers) over the next 12 months. This expansion is crucially needed, given the scarcity of organisations in North East Scotland with the expertise to support New Scots.
The Casework service aims to connect with New Scots through a variety of means, from outreach programmes that target hotels and other locations frequented by New Scots, to creating accessible pathways through the charity’s Language Café, drop-in sessions, and office appointments. The Language Café offers valuable opportunities to practice English while also learning about a wealth of other services and resources available. The team of dedicated professionals are there to provide expert guidance and support throughout the entire process, ensuring individuals
receive the best possible care tailored to their unique needs.
The service also enables the charity to help identify and apply for unclaimed benefits, as well as other financial aid that individuals may be entitled to. They also offer advice and support to those who have been affected by prejudice or discrimination, such as helping report a hate crime, or advocating on a client’s behalf when their issues have not been properly addressed.
GREC understands that access to mainstream services can be a challenge, whether it is due to a lack of digital equipment or skills, language barriers, or other factors. Their team helps by providing direct support to address these issues and, when necessary, they collaborate with their Policy Officer to advocate for solutions with related organisations. Additionally, they offer supported referrals to partner organisations for expert advice on complex issues such as immigration, housing, homelessness, benefits, or appeals.