Legal Services students from New College Lanarkshire have presented a legal guide for refugees at a Crown Office conference attended by the First Minister and Lord Advocate.
The HND students from the College’s Motherwell campus presented the guide to Scots Law at the Hate Crime Conference in Hampden Park to delegates including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley and John Wilkes from the Scottish Refugee Council.
The students researched and developed the comprehensive guide as part of a project in collaboration with the Crown Office – Project Safe – aiming to provide asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland a guide to the laws which will affect their everyday lives.
Over the course of seven months, the students researched and developed the wide range of issues that affect those unfamiliar with Scots Law, including divorce, domestic abuse, littering and driving laws.
The guide will now be translated in several different languages and distributed by the Crown Office to refugees entering the country.
Speaking at the conference, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC thanked the students for their contribution to making Scotland a more welcoming place. He said: “I was once asked to speak to a refugee community in Glasgow and got asked a question which was a light bulb moment for me – who can tell us all the laws in Scotland? It got me thinking of how we could help the refugee community understand the cultures and laws of the country.
“Many refugees and asylum seekers have come from regimes where there is no rule of law and little trust in authority. I want them to be able to live safe and peaceful lives here in Scotland.
“I would like to thank the students and staff from New College Lanarkshire for all their hard work on the project, and for going above and beyond the call of duty. All the commitment and additional hours put in have really been worth it and the guide will be hugely welcomed by the refugee community.
“I am extremely proud to have worked with such a talented and dedicated bunch and foresee very bright futures ahead.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also gave the guide her seal of approval, commenting: “Refugees make a hugely valuable contribution to our culture and society and we must ensure that Scotland is a country where hate crime is seen as unacceptable. There is still a long way to go if we are to succeed in eradicating hate crime but with projects like this we will continue to strive towards this ambition.”
John Wilkes of the Scottish Refugee Council praised Project Safe, saying: “I’d like to thank the students and staff for this important initiative which will be so useful to those coming to Scotland for a better life.
“They have done themselves and Scotland proud.”
Student and Project Manager, Karen Yuill said: “This was an incredible opportunity to work on a unique project with the Crown Office and present it in front of the Lord Advocate, First Minister, and representatives from the police force.
“I am delighted that the guide has been well received and I hope that it will continue to make an impact for many years to come.”
Eleanor Lafferty, lecturer and organiser of Project Safe, said: “I am extremely proud of our HND students and all the hard work they have done.
“It has been an honour to work with them and the Crown Office – in particular the Lord Advocate – on this project. These are memories that I will always carry with me once the students leave us in June this year.”
Martin McGuire, Principal of New College Lanarkshire said: “The students were offered the opportunity to play an important role in the welcoming of refugees and asylum seekers to the country and their legal knowledge, research skills and dedication is evident in the fantastic resource produced.
“To present this in front of the Lord Advocate and First Minister is a once-in-a-lifetime experience I hope the students will never forget. The College is extremely proud of their achievements throughout the Crown Office project.”
The Motherwell campus of New College Lanarkshire offers courses in law and legal services ranging from NQ to HND level and which often provide opportunities for students to meet with high ranking members of the sector.
To read or download a copy of the Project Safe guide, click here: www.nclanarkshire.ac.uk/scotslaw