Scotland has a history of welcoming people who seek asylum on our shores – indeed we have led by example in integration and inclusion across Scotland, including those who have settled in every part of this country through the Syrian Resettlement Programme.

If we stop to consider for a second being forced from your homeland due to war or violence, risking your life to travel to a foreign country, and leaving so much behind – your home, job and even family members, then having to deal with a new country, culture and language, I think we can all feel compassion and empathy. While the UK Government is entirely responsible for our asylum, and immigration rules, I am determined people who have arrived here as refugees or seeking asylum are treated with a humanity that is rooted in dignity and respect.

New Scots is our strategy on refugees and asylum seekers and has been running since 2014 and our second strategy which runs to 2022 was published last year. The name was chosen to make clear that everyone will be treated as one of our own.

Integration from day one is a key principle that the Scottish Government is committed to achieving, and this is the backbone of our New Scots strategy. It is about enabling everyone to be included in society by supporting refugees and people seeking asylum to integrate into communities from day one of arrival.

Refugees have so much to give to our society. People with lives to live, with families, with skills, experience and education that could be a benefit to Scotland. It is important that they feel valued, have self-worth and feel they can contribute.

Being able to work helps with integration, but there can be significant barriers which prevent refugees from gaining employment or leads to them being underemployed. There is a campaign to allow people to work while they are waiting for the outcome of their application process, but this is reserved issue and any decision to change it lies with the UK Government.

We have seen the difference it can make to people’s lives to be able to work and contribute to the local economy and society through the Syrian Resettlement programme, where the most vulnerable refugees came to the UK and were resettled. Under the programme they are eligible to work and establish new businesses, and I believe that all refugees and people seeking asylum should be treated the same and allowed to contribute if they can.

This week, I have witnessed first-hand the remarkable projects and organisations that are working hard to support refugees and asylum seekers to make Scotland their new home.

I attended the graduation ceremony of Diageo’s Learning for Life training programme in which 11 refugees from countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and Algeria have been learning new skills to gain employment in Scotland’s hospitality sector. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm and willingness to learn and all their hard work paying off. This is a great example of how private and third sector organisations can play their part in supporting people who have come to Scotland as refugees into employment.

On a visit to the Red Cross’s Refugee Voices Ambassadors project I heard the very personal stories from refugees and people seeking asylum about their experiences. Hearing this can help us understand more about refugees and often come to see how much we have in common, helping us to make better, more informed policy decisions.

Govan is home to a significant number of people seeking asylum who live in dispersal accommodation and third sector organisations such as the Govan Community Project who support refugees and people seeking asylum are ensuring people get the support they need. I can’t thank them enough, and all who play their part in helping refugees.

Equality for all is a long standing priority for this Government and we have strived to create an inclusive society where equality and human rights are respected.

We will continue to celebrate the fullness of Scotland’s diversity, where everyone in Scotland is empowered to achieve their potential irrespective of their background, race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. We want to build inclusive, resilient and safe communities in Scotland where everyone feels connected, has a sense of belonging and feels valued. Everyone should be able to be involved in building stronger, resilient communities where everyone can be an active citizen.

To build a Scotland proud in the world for these principles we should hold dear and for welcoming those in need.

Aileen Campbell is the Communities Secretary of the Scottish Government