In 1997, Scottish Refugee Council worked with COSLA and Scottish local authorities to change social work legislation, preventing homelessness and destitution for young single asylum seekers. May, 1999 saw an influx of Kosovan refugees to Scotland, as a result of a resettlement agreement with the UNHCR and Scottish Refugee Council was at the forefront in helping Kosovans settle and integrate in Scottish society.
The Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) led to a large increase in the number of asylum seekers being dispersed to Scotland. Scottish Refugee Council offers advice and advocacy to asylum seekers, and is also concerned with issues of settlement and integration for those who have made Scotland their home and can never return to their former countries.
The Council provides a number of direct services to refugees and asylum seekers. The organisation provides accommodation and financial support for newly arrived refugees making an asylum claim in Scotland. The Council's One Stop Service gives independent information, advice, and advocacy for asylum seekers. Caseworkers often hear harrowing stories of persecution and torture from refugees. Advice can be provided in areas such as legal status and protection, education and employment, and housing and social welfare.
The Scottish Refugee Council is also actively involved in campaigning and influencing public policy as well as providing information to both press and the public, in order to broaden public understanding of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. Events such as Refugee Week are aimed at the wider public, and Scottish Refugee Council is active in reacting to press coverage such as the BBC's Asylum Day programme, and articles and letters which appear in newspapers and magazines. In conjunction with bodies such as the Refugee Council which is based in England, Scottish Refugee Council also attempts to influence policy at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Refugee Council also plays a part in community development, supporting refugee community organisations in Scotland, helping refugees tell their stories to the media, and involving them in policy discussions with politicians and service providers.
Networking and partnership-building are also important to the Scottish Refugee Council. It works closely with other refugee agencies in the UK, including the Refugee Council, the Refugee Survival Trust, and Scottish Detainee Visitors. It also has international links with the UNHCR, and is part of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).