The Destitute Asylum Seeker Service (DASS) project came to an end on 30 November 2021. The law clinic was a partner of the project since it began in 2015. The partnership was led by Refugee Survival Trust and included Scottish Refugee Council and British Red Cross, among others.

The law clinic’s role within the partnership was to help people get a better understanding of their legal position and empower them to progress their claims with their solicitors.

Over the duration of the project, the clinic met with over 250 referrals and opened over 70 cases. Many new claims were submitted, granting 31 people status. A further 11 claims have been submitted and await an outcome.

During the project, many student advisers volunteered their time, including six project coordinators. They ran public legal education sessions on Scots law for asylum seekers and refugees. They performed forum theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe to raise public awareness of the problems facing destitute asylum seekers in the UK. During lockdown, they adapted the forum theatre into a short film for St Andrews Fair Saturday. Above all, they all worked incredibly hard to secure the best outcomes for clients. Many have continued working with refugees at home and abroad.

While we celebrate the successes for some of our clients, we also remember their difficult journeys to get there, and the many people who remain in limbo. This is particularly the case at Christmas, knowing that while many prepare to spend time with loved ones, many others face another year of poverty and isolation.

One way to help people in this situation over Christmas, and in the New Year, would be to donate to Refugee Survival Trust’s Winter Travel Appeal. This gives people in this situation some respite by helping them connect with others:

These aren’t just tickets for buses – they are tickets to meet basic needs, safety and companionship for refugees and asylum seekers who are separated from family and for those who face long journeys through Scotland’s notorious winter weather; and they are tickets to integration into the Scottish community, all things that we wish for every human being.

If you are able to donate, please do so here:

We wish everyone a happy and peaceful holiday season, and a happy new year.

We have also shared a piece written by Paul Laverty, who has recently spent time at the Siberian border where there are several unofficial sites of refugees. Please see this piece, ‘Dear President Ursula Von Der Leyen’, below.

Gillian Melville, Clinic Supervisor