Under Birchwood Highland, the project HiMRA (Highland Migrant & Refugee Advocacy) aims to empower and bring together people who identify as migrants and refugees, to strengthen community integration and social inclusion in the Highlands of Scotland.
Building on the findings from Birchwood Highland's 'Migrant Matters' research, the project seeks to fulfil the need for supports to be enduring, community based and community led. Migration can have a profound physical and psychological impact on people, which affects mental health and well-being.
Research highlighted that migrant communities in the Highlands are dealing with serious issues connected to establishing themselves in a new country; specifically isolation, poor mental health, issues around employability, integration and language. Isolation and stigma are significant barriers to integration for the migrant and refugee population in Scotland, which can lead to poor self-confidence, a lack of self-esteem and mental health issues such as depression.
Peer support groups offer a safe space for people to come together to build friendships and support, to utilise local knowledge and to find appropriate local service providers, activities and events. Peer support has the potential to lessen peoples feelings of vulnerability and marginalisation and, in turn, promotes the development of capacity and skills of migrants and refugees to participate and integrate within their local communities.
HiMRA aims to challenge the stigma around mental health and hopes to support migrants and refugees to have a voice and seek support when they need it. It is the project's aim to develop a training package to deliver to people from migrant and refugee communities who can then go on to support others.
This capacity building is something we are passionate about where people can have their skills recognised and make use of their valuable knowledge and life experience. We aim to provide drop-in peer support groups in different locations in the Highlands. Groups will evolve into self-sustaining community-based and community-led supports driven by migrant and refugee needs and voices.
By establishing a safe space to connect, share knowledge, access information and supports to reach potential, we aim to support migrants and refugees from all backgrounds to have a vibrant voice in the Highlands.
What We Do
Safe spaces across Highland where people can access support and advice. This is somewhere migrants and refugees can connect, share knowledge, access information and supports to reach their potential. Drop-ins are a base for peer support, signposting to service providers and outlining local support groups and activity programmes that exist. Learn more with our Noticeboard.
Guest speakers will attend drop-in sessions across Highland. This will give space and time to other services to explain how they can offer support in the community. For example, employment & welfare rights, and health & wellbeing are key sessions that can provide more specific information and help for migrants and refugees.
PEER SUPPORT & ADVOCACY
Peer support is about empowerment. Peer support is the practice of assisting your peers to have their voice, views and wishes heard. HiMRA promotes human rights and advocacy principles that strives to help people understand and exercise their rights. All people's rights should be protected and promoted. HiMRA believes that people share the same human values that span across ethnic origin, religious orientation, gender, sexual preference, class, age and ability.
HiMRA PROMOTES MIGRANT AND REFUGEE EMPOWERMENT THROUGH PEER SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY, WITH THE AIM OF FOSTERING SOCIAL INCLUSION AND COMMUNITY CONNECTEDNESS.
VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
We believe in listening to, and strengthening, the voices of migrants and refugees across Highland. Our work enables and empowers people to have their voice heard, through peer support and community networks, and to explore choices and supports. Our advocates work with migrants and refugees to ensure that they are guided towards the right help and support they need to thrive in their community and personal life.
We believe in a fair society, where discrimination and inequality are consistently challenged. Migrants and refugees can often be vulnerable to multiple disadvantage with lasting effects, our service therefore believes that providing the right tools and support can help to turn lives around.
Our work puts migrant and refugee voices at the heart of the decision-making process. Our service aims to be responsive to need by listening to what migrants and refugees tell us. We use monitoring and evaluation as part of our approach to guide and shape the most appropriate delivery.
HiMRA operates within a human-rights based framework. Among other things we believe that migrants and refugees have the right to self-determination, the right to liberty, the right to be free from discrimination, the right to respect for private and family life, and the right to recognition as a person before the law.
We believe that migrants and refugees should be actively supported to integrate within their local communities. We believe in the value of social networks (both bonding and bridging) to build resilience, to foster compassionate communities, and to strengthen community connectedness. We also believe that migrants and refugees bring valuable knowledge and skills with them which are assets to Highland communities. By helping to overcome potential isolation, we believe that migrants and refugees make Highland social and economic life stronger.
We believe that through appropriate and sustained support we can help to build confidence, allowing migrants and refugees to make the decisions that are right for them.
HiMRA adopts a multi-agency approach, working collaboratively with other community services to deliver effective and holistic solutions at the local level. We believe that by working with both statutory and third sector stakeholders, and by sharing knowledge and expertise, we can more effectively address the needs of migrants and refugees living in Highland.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND IMPARTIALITY
We believe the starting point for effective engagement and support is to build trust with migrants and refugees. We provide a safe support system that maintains strict protocols on confidentiality. We also adopt a non-judgemental approach as a core value, ensuring impartiality as a guiding principle to allow migrants and refugees to make the choices that are right for them.
THE HiMRA TEAM
Dr Clare Daly is the Project Manager for HiMRA
With a background in rural mental health and social inclusion, Clare will be the overall lead on the project.
To contact Clare, please call 07849398141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Franci Hutchison is the Community Development Worker at HiMRA
With a background in Social Work and reintegration work with street children in a rehabilitation centre in rural Malawi, Franci will be engaging with migrants and refugees as well as with other organisations to promote peer support and social inclusion.
To contact Franci, please call 07388995107 or email email@example.com
Tiffany Bottomley is the Advocacy Worker at HiMRA
With a back ground in Art Psychotherapy and Support work, Tiffany will supervise and train our Peer Support Volunteers to facilitate peer support groups for the local migrant and refugee communities.
To contact Tiffany, please call 07388990798 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
JOIN THE TEAM!
To become part of the HiMRA team and donate your time, talents, local and global knowledge, please visit our Volunteer section to explore current vacancies and project opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you!