AN independent commission exploring the integration of refugees in the UK will hear evidence today in Glasgow from a mix of Scottish charities, politicians, academics and experts.

Opposing voices from across the refugee and asylum debate will speak to the Commission on the Integration of Refugees, an inquiry which will run until the end of the year and which seeks to bring together conflicting viewpoints and diverse experiences to find common ground on how to fix the system.

Today's Scottish session is one of seven hearings across the UK. 

Three of the commissioners will also meet refugees and asylum seekers supported by Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) and take part in activities such as gardening. 

READ MORE: Refugees aren't like us, they are us

One woman supported by MIN, who is using the name Yamam came to the UK from Iraq in 2021 with her five-year-old son and they had their application as refugees accepted in May last year.  

Having been involved in the revolution in Iraq, the 35-year-old suffered terrible experiences at the hands of the militia who continued to threaten her life.   

She and her son are now settling in Glasgow where Yamam has started an HND in art and design and hopes to go to the University of Glasgow to continue her studies. 

She said: “I feel like I’m part of this community.

READ MORE: A refugee on a coin? 'Lovely', thought Paddington

"I go to the workshops, I volunteer and everyone here is friendly and tries to help each other. I dreamed about studying art all my life and am now able to achieve this. If I hadn’t gone to the art group I wouldn’t know that I could study and apply to college. I am so thankful for that.

“Being part of the community and the Maryhill Integration Network group has helped me a lot. I have no family or friends here, it’s just me and my son.  

"So these groups are extremely important to us. The UK is giving me and my son many good opportunities, which I am very grateful for.”

Commissioners Dr Ed Kessler, Bishop Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Kevin Hyland, Hanna Kienzler, Jehangir Malik, Tony Smith, Nicola Thomas and Sabir Zazai will hear from experts and people with lived experience from across Scotland.

READ MORE: Rwanda plan is cruel but far from unusual for this Tory government

Lord Alex Carlile CBE KC, Chair of The Commission on the Integration of Refugees, said: “The current way these issues are debated is disappointing.  

"It is highly contentious, extremely opinionated and largely led by controversialists looking for disagreement. Our hope is that by bringing together 24 reasonable people of appropriate experience to hear different perspectives from across the country a solid and enduring set of solutions can be found.  

"We intend to produce a programme that easily can be translated into lasting policy and better law.

"My parents and sister were refugees in the UK having survived Nazi persecution in Poland.

"I was brought up to believe that the UK is a place where justice is done for people wherever they come from. But the current system is not working. 

"It’s not working for refugees and asylum seekers, and it’s not working for society.”

The Commission, which is convened and funded by the Woolf Institute, will hold seven hearings across the UK.  

READ MORE: Asylum seekers detail life in Glasgow's Park Inn hotel

🔴 Save on a full year of digital access with our lowest EVER offer.

Subscribe for the whole year to The Herald for only £24 for unlimited website access or £30 for our digital pack.

This is only available for a limited time so don't miss out.

👉 Click here to subscribe

Today’s hearing in Glasgow is the fifth and follows one in Birmingham, Croydon, Newcastle and Manchester before another two in Cardiff and Hereford.  

Commissioners will hear from experts and local people with a range of experiences and opposing views, including refugees and asylum seekers, economists, security and police forces, lawyers, third-sector workers, business leaders, clinicians, education and health experts, academics, faith leaders and policy makers across the political spectrum.