September 13, 2017
by rst2012

Jedburgh Three Peaks ultramarathon chooses RST as charity partner!

Jedburgh-logo-transparent (2)

We’re absolutely delighted that the organisers of the Jedburgh Three Peaks ultramarathon have selected the Refugee Survival Trust as their charity partner.

This year’s event, which takes place on Saturday 28 October, is a 38 mile, mostly off-road course. The race starts and finishes in Jedburgh. Less serious athletes can also take part in the relay race, for which there is compulsory fancy dress!


The event is open to all runners aged 20+ on the day of the event, and there are still limited places available. Sign up now

We’re also looking for volunteers to help out with the event on the day – if you’re available please contact us.

August 29, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on 21 years of RST – Just Festival performance

21 years of RST – Just Festival performance

August has been a month filled with creative arts workshops for RST, leading up to a large performance as part of the Just Festival’s Just Together showcase event in the spectacular surroundings of St John’s Church on Princes Street in Edinburgh. This performance celebrated RST’s 21 years of supporting destitute refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland, and explored some of the challenges we have faced over the years, alongside a snapshot of the changing policy landscape.

We were delighted to have three talented artists supporting our workshops, beginning with Nihad al Turk’s painting session to create painted scenery panels representing different countries.DSC06625

Emma Smith brought the skills she uses as a member of Musicians Without Borders to our music workshop, sharing techniques to get to know participants and practice English through song and movement. Finally Helen Boden led a creative writing workshop to develop poems based on the painted panels:panel in kitchen


Land of kindness,

Where the tea appears,

with cakes, like magic,

And we settle on the carpet

To tell stories

The performance and workshops were a great success, and we would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone who participated in the development and performance of the piece, and everyone who joined us on the night to enjoy the final night of the festival. Particular thanks are due to Sarah Tolley, our dedicated and creative events volunteer who devised and developed the performance and stage-managed the event on the night. Thank you!  DSC06981


July 24, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on RST arts workshops & Edinburgh Fringe performance

RST arts workshops & Edinburgh Fringe performance

Here’s a very rare chance to be involved in creating a work of art and putting on a performance during the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe. RST is 21 years old and we celebrating this milestone by devising and presenting a participatory performance called ‘Surviving in Scotland – 21 years of RST’ as part of the Just Festival. Just Festival events are designed to engage with topical local, national and international questions of social justice, equality and identity, including prejudice against race, ethnicity, class and economic status. Just Festival logo

We’re looking for people to take part in the performance, make friends and have fun by joining in our creative rehearsal workshops. We are very lucky to be able to offer workshops in painting, music and poetry from three fabulously talented workshop leaders – an art workshop to create brilliant props with Syrian artist Nihad, a music workshop for an exhilarating musical act with Emma, and a poetry workshop with Helen for finding the words that say what we mean…

* Saturday 12 August  2 to 5 pm,  ART WORKSHOP – paint your own panels with Nihad al-TurkMcDonald Road Library, 2-4 McDonald Road EH7 4LU

FREE PICTURE: World famous Syrian Artist Nihad al Turk gives paintings to Leith School of Art charity auction, Wed 22/03/2017: *** EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL THURSDAY 23RD MARCH 2017 *** Syrian Artist who came on First Refugee Flight Thanks Scotland with Charity Gift - East Aleppo painter arrested for opposing Syrian regime joins more than 50 artists in supporting Leith School of Art fundraising auction A respected artist who was on the first Syrian refugee flight from Lebanon with his family is saying “thank you” to Scotland by donating paintings to a charity auction. Nihad al Turk is pictured with some of his paintings in his Edinburgh studio. More information from: Matthew Shelley - PR consultant for Leith School of Art (LSA) - 07786 704 299 - Photography for Leith School of Art from: Colin Hattersley Photography - - - 07974 957 388. Free FIRST USE (ONLY) picture. Photography from: Colin Hattersley Photography - - - 07974 957 388

World famous Syrian Artist Nihad al Turk gives paintings to Leith School of Art charity auction, Wed 22/03/2017.
Photography from: Colin Hattersley Photography

*Thursday 17 August  7 to 9 pm,  MUSIC WORKSHOP – an amazing musical  session with Emma SmithLauriston Hall, 28 Lauriston Street EH3 9DJ  

*Thursday 24 August  7 to 9 pm,  POETRY WORKSHOP – make your words zing with Helen Boden Lauriston Hall, 28 Lauriston Street EH3 9DJ  

*Saturday 26 August 2 to 4 pm, GENERAL REHEARSAL on the open air Tupiniquim stage, The Green Police Box, Middle Meadow Walk, Lauriston Place,  EH1 9AU

*Saturday 26 August 7.30 to 8.30 pm, RST PERFORMANCE as part of the Just Festival, St John’s Church, Princes St, EH2 4BJ

Everyone who joins in our workshops is automatically included in our participatory performance during the Edinburgh Fringe!

To book your place send RST volunteer Sarah an email with your name, age and contact details  – or text 07593316284  and she will get back to you.


June 18, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on RST International Folk Concert, 21st June

RST International Folk Concert, 21st June

refugee-festival-scotland-logo-2017 WEB

Join us as part of Refugee Festival Scotland for an international folk concert featuring a unique blend of old and new, with:

Kameran Hamo

Kameran Hamo has been living in Edinburgh for a year, and has kindly played at many concerts for RST and other refugee charities. We are delighted to welcome him and his family to this concert, during Refugee Week.

The Syn Eastern Music Group

The Syn Eastern Music Group is led by Stella Mazeri and it is made up of musicians interested in Middle Eastern and Balkan music. They will play a variety of tunes from Greek, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian and other traditions. They practise regularly in Edinburgh and all levels and types of acoustic instruments and/or voice (guitar, oud, lute, violin, flute, percussion etc.) are welcome. We are also very interested to hear from anyone who could teach a song or tune. Please email:

Sarah Phizacklea & Majik Stokes

Majk Stokes and Sarah Phizacklea are both Edinburgh-based singer-songwriters. Over the past three years they have collaborated to create the Fringe concerts “Make Tea, Not War” at the Quaker Meeting House, raising funds for various charities. More recently they have worked together on Majk’s upcoming new album “Too Much Caffeine” (available in August).

Sarah regularly performs with “The Pearls”, a 1950s housewife-style duo, bringing cheer to hospitals and nursing homes. Majk also plays and calls for ceilidhs with his band Shingis McKingis. They are honoured to have been asked to play this evening in aid of RST.

Community Kurdish DancingWP_20170405_19_46_37_Pro

Come along and find out about the music, instruments and dances of cultures from around the world, share delicious foods, and celebrate connections between different communities.


A chance to win an original painting by internationally renowned artist Nihad Al Turk in the raffle – don’t miss this incredible opportunity to own a one-off piece of art!


7pm – 9pm

Lauriston Hall, 28 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ


International food and soft drinks provided

Funding available to support transport costs for refugees – please contact for more information.

Donations welcome – all money raised goes to RST’s grant programmes for asylum seekers and refugees

This event is part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2017, Tuesday 20 June – Sunday 2 July 2017. #RefugeeFestScot

Coordinated by Scottish Refugee Council, Refugee Festival Scotland is an annual Scotland-wide programme of arts, cultural, educational, heritage and sport events that brings refugee and local communities across Scotland together.

June 1, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on New refugees and destitution

New refugees and destitution

You are an asylum seeker in Glasgow. You have been in the asylum process for several years, working to persuade the Home Office that your claim for asylum is genuine and that you cannot return to your home country. Finally a decision is made – you have been granted refugee status! Time to celebrate, surely? Not yet. First you need to apply for mainstream social security. You’re lucky in this case, as your English is fluent and you are able to negotiate the language of UK bureaucracy. Time is ticking, as your Home Office support and accommodation are only provided for 28 days from the day you get status. Weeks pass with no sign of mainstream support. You are evicted from your housing and left destitute, with no money for food or accommodation.

The recent All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees report “Refugees Welcome?” examines crucial flaws in the asylum system, such as the above example, and how these impact on asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. The report highlights a number of problems which will be frustratingly familiar to many refugees, asylum seekers and people who work to support those in the asylum process. The two-tier nature of the asylum process is laid bare, with people coming to the UK as part of one of the government-led resettlement schemes being provided with accommodation and casework support, while for those who have made their way to the county and then gone through the asylum process independently there is no government support for either of these things.  Casework support covers such crucial aspects of integration into a new society as support to access ESOL provision, assistance with negotiating the social security system once eligible, support with finding employment, education and volunteering opportunities. Without support in these areas many people will struggle to navigate the systems of UK society and can become isolated as a result. 

While people are in the asylum system they are forbidden from working, so in most cases are reliant on Home Office-provided housing and asylum support (£36 per week, or approximately half of Job Seekers Allowance). When people receive a positive decision on their case the period between this support being cut off and the person transferring to mainstream benefits is currently a 28 day “move on” period. The Scottish Refugee Council’s report Rights, Resilience & Refugee Integration in Scotland shows the average time from a person being granted refugee status and receiving their first Jobseekers Allowance payment is 41 days. The delay is significantly longer for receiving Child Benefit (90 days) and Child Tax Credits (110 days), putting families at a significant disadvantage. Alongside the challenges of negotiating the private housing market and the general lack of support for these new refugees in this period there is a very real risk of people being left homeless and destitute.  If you are a new refugee at the end of the move-on period and haven’t yet been fully installed on the mainstream social security system you are evicted from your housing and made homeless, with no access to the support you are now legally entitled to.

At this stage new refugees in Glasgow can be referred to RST for a grant to cover their costs during this period, to prevent people from becoming homeless and destitute. In 2016-17 we provided 65 grants to new refugees awaiting mainstream social security support, totalling £6,356.00. We supported 86 adults and 58 children who had been newly granted refugee status but instead of being able to celebrate their application being successful were on the brink of being made homeless and left with no money for food.

The issues facing new refugees in this period are soon to both worsen and be felt by a much larger section of society with the rolling up of several existing forms of support into Universal Credit, which has a six week wait for the first payment as standard. The short move-on period is just one of the crisis points built in to the asylum system, periods of transition between parts of the process whereby people are much more likely to fall into destitution. Others include the initial process of claiming asylum which in the majority of cases requires an application to be made in person in Croydon, and the period immediately following a negative decision on a case. In these periods refugees and asylum seekers are able to apply for a small RST destitution grant to tide them over. However each of these stages is present in the system by design, and while we have provided grants to tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers over our 21 year existence it should not be the role of the voluntary sector to catch people when they fall through the cracks in the system. The system is broken and unfit for purpose. 

Take action 

  • Help RST continue to provide destitution grants to sustain people through these crisis points in the system – donate here.
  • Ask your candidates in the General Election to sign the Refugee Council’s pledge to remember the importance of refugee protection.
  • Contact your local representatives and let them know your thoughts on the current asylum system. Immigration is devolved to Westminster but MSPs can still take action in various ways – see for example the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s recent report Hidden Lives – New Beginnings: Destitution, Asylum and Insecure Immigration Status in Scotland.
  • Volunteer your time to help RST’s work – for more information about volunteering please contact Katherine Mackinnon,
  • Find out more about the diverse experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and the community groups and organisations working with them by taking part in Refugee Festival Scotland.

May 22, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on Veg pledge for asylum seekers

Veg pledge for asylum seekers

Unfortunately, many people within the UK’s asylum process experience destitution. The Refugee Survival Trust’s Destitute Asylum Seeker Service is a lifeline for these individuals; we provide comprehensive support, including organising accommodation, bus pass vouchers and legal advice to help them to resolve their cases. We are now raising funds for our shopping budget programme, through which we give small amounts of cash to help refugees with their weekly shop.

Fruit & veg

The destitute asylum seekers that we work with have no form of income. We help them to register for the food bank, but the supply of fresh food is limited and variable. We give each asylum seeker £10 per week to buy nutritious essentials such as dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables.

In a time of great stress and uncertainty, a balanced and nutritious diet is even more important than ever. The shopping budget that we give each asylum seeker can help them to remain as healthy as possible while we work with our partners to help them to resolve their cases and to find routes out of destitution.

Contribute to the veg pledge here, and find out more about our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service here.

May 15, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on Preventing homelessness through the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service

Preventing homelessness through the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service

Guest post by Katharine WeatherheadDASS_Leaflet_Front_Cover2

Next month, it will have been four years since the publication of a report entitled Preventing Destitute Homelessness (June 2013). The report, commissioned by the Refugee Survival Trust and compiled by Community InfoSource, investigated the challenges posed by homelessness for asylum seekers in Scotland. What were its findings and are they still relevant today?

The report pulled together findings from a range of sources across Scotland and England. Asylum seekers shared their experiences of sleeping in night shelters and being hosted in someone’s house (pp. 23-26). Domestic abuse, lack of access to showers, and lack of privacy are some of the issues they faced. Migrant support organisations also expressed difficulties in addressing aspects of destitution, from accommodation and hosting to advice and subsistence (pp. 18-22). These organisations mentioned funding and coordination as areas of concern.

The report identified a need for improvement in tackling homelessness (p. 27), a problem that results from policies and administrative practices which compose the asylum system. In response, RST headed up a project called the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service (DASS) with the support of several partner organisations: Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross, University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, Glasgow Night Shelter, Fasgadh and Rehoboth Nissi Ministries.

Based in Glasgow, the DASS project uses a model of holistic support and offers a range of services to address the needs of refused asylum seekers. Its three core areas of activity are destitution advice, legal support, and accommodation. By April 2016, after only 9 months of operation, the DASS project had had more than 200 applicants for assistance. It then received funding from Foundation Scotland’s New Beginnings Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to extend and continue its work.

Today, the findings of the Preventing Destitute Homelessness report continue to be relevant as a reminder of the hardships faced by asylum seekers who are excluded from social safety nets. The ongoing work of the DASS project evidences that destitution is still a significant challenge for asylum seekers in Scotland. Projects which respond to homelessness can have a positive impact on people’s lives, as encapsulated in the words of a DASS beneficiary (see extract).DASS quote

More information

For a summary of the Preventing Destitute Homelessness report, click here. For the full report, click here. For information on the DASS project and details on how to get in touch, see this short leaflet and the RST website.

April 28, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on Get involved with RST!

Get involved with RST!

We are looking for volunteers to join our events team in Glasgow, helping to plan and run event and activities to fundraise for and raise awareness of RST. In the past we’ve had concerts, poetry events, sponsored swims, a t-shirt design competition and much more – can you bring some great ideas and enthusiasm to the RST volunteer team? 

About the role

Fundraising volunteers are crucial to the continued work of RST. A small team shares the tasks of raising funds and promoting the work of the organisation by organising and representing RST at concerts, talks, and other events.

This is a great opportunity to gain experience in practical fundraising, meet new people, have fun and make a huge difference to people’s lives by raising funds for our grants. 

Main tasks

  • Thinking of creative, engaging fundraising activities and making them a reality
  • Working as part of a team to plan and organise community events to raise awareness of RST’s work and fundraise for our grants
  • Diverse events management tasks – everything from promotion and publicity to budgeting, seeking out acts or even performing yourself if you’ve got a talent to share!Georgian musicians

Skills and experience needed

  • Creative thinker
  • Enthusiasm
  • Good communication skills

Benefits to the volunteer

  • Access to RST induction and volunteer training programme
  • Learn valuable skills like events organising & promotion and public speaking
  • Meet new people and improve your confidence
  • Make a difference – contribute to RST’s crucial work with refugees and asylum seekers 


This role is very flexible. Volunteers can take a very active role in organising their own events or can be added to a list to be notified of events coming up and assistance required.Jazz musicians

If you’re interested in finding out more about this volunteering opportunity please get in touch with Katherine: .

Note: all the great photos of musicians and performers in this post come from Wikimedia Commons, a treasure trove of freely usable media files.