THE Scottish Government has been urged to set up a peer support network for asylum seekers who are facing destitution.

The British Red Cross, along with the Refugee Survival Trust, published a report today into preventing the most extreme poverty in those seeking asylum in the UK.

Asylum seekers, the report said, often suffer worst in the first six months of their time in the UK. This is due to language issues, delays to support and being moved repeatedly between accommodation which makes it harder to establish support systems.

As a result, the report called on the Home Office to offer an initial grant to asylum seekers to help them set up life in the UK and lessen the likelihood of destitution. But they also urged the Scottish Government to create a peer support network, allowing people to seek advice and support from someone with lived experience.

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“Destitution prevents people from living a healthy life, significantly affecting mental wellbeing, which is compounded by a lack of information and support to navigate the asylum system,” said Phil Arnold, the head of refugee services in Scotland for the British Red Cross.

He added: “Across the UK, people seeking asylum have made positive contributions to their communities, and play a valued role where they live. We must listen to their voices represented in this report.

“We are therefore calling on the Scottish Government to establish and fund a pilot peer support system that will ensure new arrivals are able to access support, guidance and friendship from people who have shared experiences of navigating the asylum system.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We do not have powers to change UK Government laws on no recourse to public funds but have repeatedly raised issues affecting those seeking asylum, including destitution.

“We continue to push for the UK Government to make improvements to the way people are supported by the Home Office.”