Aileen Morton

By Stef Lach

Argyll and Bute Council’s work in supporting refugees into employment has made the final shortlist for the 2019 COSLA Excellence Awards.

The ‘Supporting our Refugees into Work’ programme is one of three finalists in the Tackling Inequalities and Improving Health category for the COSLA Excellence Awards, which celebrate the very best in Scottish local government.

Councillor Aileen Morton, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “This is deserved recognition for the excellent efforts of our staff who work with refugees in Argyll and Bute. The men, women and children who have been welcomed into our community have fled trauma that we can only imagine, and the Council has made sure to help our Syrian families build safe, secure lives in Argyll and Bute.

“Being able to secure meaningful employment is clearly an important part of feeling integrated and secure, and a lot of excellent work has been done to help on that front. I congratulate the team for their ongoing efforts.”

SNP MSPs Brenda O’Hara and Angela Constance sample the food at Helmi’s.

The Council works with partner organisations on the ‘Supporting our Refugees into Work’ strategy, which sets out to support refugee families with integration. Moving into meaningful employment is seen as a key part of that process.

Supporting the move from benefits to financial independence results in improvements in health and well-being of our Syrian families.

Supported by the strategy, more than 80% of the adults have either started their own business, successfully applied for jobs, are studying at college or university, or are volunteering and undertaking work experience.

Helmi’s Bakery, one of the Syrian-owned businesses successfully launched on Bute, won regional silver and bronze awards at the 2019 Scottish Baker of the Year competition.

Cleland Sneddon, Chief Executive of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “We couldn’t have achieved this recognition without the unstinting support of the community of Bute. It is a testament to the welcome and the support given to our new Syrian families by the people of Bute.”

The judging process for COSLA’s Excellence Awards takes place in September, with a panel made up of experts from across the media, local and national government, the Scottish Parliament and the private sector.

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