Asylum Seekers (Mental Wellbeing)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 March 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

4. To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support the mental wellbeing of asylum seekers accommodated in hotels in Scotland. (S6O-03287)

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

The Home Office is responsible for the provision of asylum accommodation and support and for the use of contingency hotels. The Scottish Government has consistently made it clear to the United Kingdom Government that hotels are not appropriate accommodation, and we continue to be concerned about the effect that prolonged stays in hotels have on people’s wellbeing.

People seeking asylum who are living in Scotland are entitled to access healthcare, including referral to mental health services. The Scottish Government funds a range of action to support mental health and wellbeing and that is available to anyone living in Scotland, regardless of their residence status.

Photo of Maggie Chapman Maggie Chapman Green

The minister will be aware of the overwhelming evidence of worsening mental health among hotel-accommodated asylum seekers. There have been at least five suicide attempts in the past few months. Asylum seekers do not feel safe; they feel as if they are in open prisons.

The Ferret and the Scottish Refugee Council have identified a rise in far-right hostility and the fact that about 500 asylum seekers have to share bedrooms with strangers as being contributory factors to that.

How can the Scottish Government and public agencies, including the national health service, mitigate the impacts of those measures and provide increased safety, reassurance and mental health support to people who are seeking asylum?

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

We absolutely recognise that the circumstances and uncertainty that asylum seekers and refugees face are often distressing and can lead to increased risk of suicide.

In implementing the Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities suicide prevention strategy “Creating Hope Together”, we are working hard to tackle the inequalities that can lead to suicide and are prioritising communities and groups—including asylum seekers and refugees—with a heightened risk of suicide.

We are engaging with public sector partners, including the NHS, to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our asylum seeker and refugee community. We are also connecting with existing projects that support asylum seekers and refugees, such as the Mental Health Foundation’s elevate project. We also continue to fund Simon Community Scotland, which is doing excellent work in supporting asylum seekers and people with no recourse to public funds. This year, our partnership is delivering peer support for people living in Glasgow and is being developed to meet the specific needs of that community.

More widely—

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, minister. I need to move to the next question.