New rights for victims of crime in Europe - Specialist services for asylum seekers

The Victim Support Scotland Asylum Seekers' Project was set up in the Sighthill area of Glasgow, one of the areas designated by the local council for housing asylum seekers. The need for a Victim Support project was identified following discussions with the police and the Refugee Council about the issues facing the new residents.

An application was made to a variety of grant-awarding bodies and funding was secured to enable the transfer of specially trained staff and volunteers to the area. A dedicated office base was established and leaflets advertising the service were translated into relevant languages.

The service works closely with other agencies in the area and is a part of a local Multi-Agency Racial Incident Monitoring (MARIM) Group. This group enables representatives from the police, health, education, social work and voluntary agencies to consider co-ordinated responses to racial incidents. In addition, the Victim Support service used part of its office as an outreach base for the police, asylum teams and the Refugee Council.

Much of the initial work was conducted on a holistic basis, often as part of a teamwork approach. As the work has progressed the need to recruit and train more bi-lingual volunteers to work with victims on a one-to-one basis was identified. In addition, as the community becomes more aware of the service, further funding is being sought to enable a drop-in facility to be provided.

Currently, 44% of all referrals coming through to the project are self-referrals, 38% come through the police and 8% from other agencies. The main categories of crime that project workers deal with are: vandalism, harassment and assault.

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