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Technology helping provide continued support for refugees during lockdown

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Services to support Syrian refugees have been made available online so a network of help is in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottish local authorities have launched the scheme to help Syrian New Scots who are used to having their support network within the community.

It was a concern they would not be able to access this support during lockdown.

Backbone, an organisation based in the Highlands, gives outdoor opportunities to marginalised groups including refugees.

Founder Pammy Johal said they operate by getting groups together to communicate and build on their knowledge in nature.

As a result of Covid-19 it has been a big change.

She said: “We have managed to use the time to restructure though so that we can work with a better staff to group ratio so there will be less people with a staff member.

“It means once restrictions start lifting we can get people back quickly and back to learning.”

Councils supporting refugees have found that adapting technology to still provide support has been beneficial and means that services are still in place for those who need them.

Aberdeen City Council said it has continued work with partners to help Syrian New Scots by assigning a family practitioner to all for daily support and to offer virtual cooking and exercise classes.

As well as mailing information in Arabic directly to families, including how to access health information, a spokesman said: “A council youth worker is doing some fantastic work with children and young people helping them to keep up with their schoolwork and links in closely with the council’s English as an additional language teachers.”

In Aberdeenshire, the council has taken its English for Speakers of Other Languages lessons online as well as training 52 members of staff how to use Google Meet to support digital learning.

Along with their partner organisations Highland Council said it has moved its intensive support service for recent arrivals to digital platforms.

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