PKAVS identifies gaps in services for minority ethnic communities in Scotland

PKAVS, the leading charity enhancing lives and connecting communities throughout Perth & Kinross, has announced the findings of the first ever Scotland-wide study of services working with minority ethnic communities. Presented at a national conference in Perth today, the research report has identified significant gaps in public services for minority ethnic communities in Scotland.

Led by PKAVS Minority Communities Hub, the report findings were presented to Marco Biagi MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, who was a Key Note Speaker at the conference at Perth Concert Hall.

A third sector organisation that has been a shining light in Perth & Kinross, this is the first time that PKAVS has led a national research project with findings that will reach and potentially impact the whole of Scotland. PKAVS has consistently delivered results through addressing the changing needs of local communities and developing strong partnerships with the local authorities.

The findings, have highlighted the range of valuable and effective work currently being delivered in relation to key policy areas such as housing, community safety, language, culture, health and community. Several case studies identifying examples of good practice are highlighted in the report.

However, the findings have also identified ongoing issues including a lack of co-ordinated activity, limited availability of sustainable funding, barriers to support, changing population profiles and negative perceptions of minority ethnic communities.

The key findings from the research are:

• A change in the profile of Scotland’s minority ethnic communities, including rising ages and shifts within the social and educational profile of new migrant groups to Scotland.

• Differences in the needs of emergent and established communities of minority ethnic groups, with immediate issues such as health, employment, language and integration as key issues for new migrants. Within some established communities there are more nuanced and complex hurdles to overcome, such as changing family dynamics, school progression, employment and older age.

• The negative impact of welfare reforms, particularly in relation to mental health and wellbeing; with frequent mention of people living in poverty having to navigate complex challenges on multiple fronts. The impact of no recourse to public funds was also raised as problem for the most vulnerable groups.

• Improved approaches to mainstream service delivery being ‘missed out’ in work with minority ethnic communities – contributing to unequal outcomes for minority ethnic communities – and frequent comments about gaps in the availability of culturally sensitive care.

• Barriers such as fear, low trust and lack of knowledge about support preventing people from seeking help in the first place or sharing relevant information with services. Cultural issues within some minority ethnic communities were also highlighted as barriers to accessing support – examples included stigma, aversions to asking for help and judgmental attitudes.

• Good practice in efforts to deliver effective support, include greater representation of minority ethnic populations in the workforce, more involvement from service users in design and planning processes, building on skills and organisational strengths, effective communication and referral strategies, the use of events to reach communities and facilitate social inclusion, partnership work with other organisations and work to change attitudes across and within minority ethnic and White Scottish communities.

Report recommendations include:

• Strengthen leadership activity across the broad range of organisations delivering support for ethnic minority communities – possibly through the formation of national steering group: regular reporting, networking, planning.

• Invest in approaches to maximise awareness of existing support and resources among staff.

• Encourage services to find ways to engage with ethnic minority communities at readily reachable points, specifically key transition point with public services, eg, joining doctor’s surgeries.

• Support word of mouth referrals by creating and sharing community specific examples of service impact so that potential users and referral partners can understand the nature of the support available and the value of the services on offer.

• Reflect upon and share the learning points identified in report

• For funders services to allocate resources that give scope to evaluate, promote, share and market services that are already having a positive impact within the ethnic minority communities.

• For all services that work with ethnic minority communities to encourage and participate in sector-specific events to promote learning and networking.

Mohammed Afzal, PKAVS Minority Communities Hub Manager, said:

“We believe that this research will provide essential insights for all who are interested in developing equality of service for all ethnic minority groups which is sadly lacking in some areas at the moment. We hope that the findings of this milestone report and the recommendations we have made will be taken forward by the Scottish Government to help address the issues being faced by minority ethnic communities across Scotland.”

Marco Biagi MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, commented:

“We welcome this research and the insight it will provide into how best to support the services working with minority ethnic communities across Scotland. Our vision is for a fair and equal Scotland. We want a society that is fair and just, in which all can participate, flourish and benefit, where we respect and value diversity, and where we work together to build a successful country.

Mr Biagi continued:

“The report and today’s conference has provided an opportunity to highlight many examples of effective practice by organisations who are working closely with ethnic minority communities. This information will be invaluable to organisations looking to develop their services.”

Helen MacKinnon, Chief Officer of PKAVS Third Sector Interface, added:

“The hard work and expertise of PKAVS Minority Communities Hub has enabled the team to lead the way in investigating and identifying the needs of minority ethnic communities in Scotland. PKAVS will now do our utmost to facilitate positive outcomes for those communities.”

For further information about PKAVS visit