MSPs have heard "anguished" testimony from asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland as part of plans to drastically overhaul the system for receiving newcomers to Scotland. 

While immigration matters are reserved to Westminster, a Scottish Parliament committee is currently hearing evidence about what rights asylum seekers in Scotland, what public resources are available and the experiences of people seeking, granted and refused asylum.

Convener of the committee Kaukab Stewart MSP said she is confident that any recommendations from the committee will have a meaningful impact on how people seeking asylum are treated.

One of the essential tasks, she said, was ensuring politicians hear directly from asylum seeking people in the "hearts of communities".

The Glasgow Kelvin MSP said: "To actually hear their stories first hand without a filter touches you in ways it otherwise wouldn't, and shows you people's humanity. 

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"It gives you clear examples: you can see the pain on their faces. The anguish that some of them have had to face, especially in this day and age when I think there is a lot of invective around asylum seeker and refugee people that has dehumanised them.

"For us as a committee to actually be speaking to asylum seekers and refugees, I've been so grateful for them taking the time to speak to us at great cost but they are willing to do that because they also want to influence change.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us but it is right that we have that pressure put on us."

During the meeting, hosted by Maryhill Integration Network in Glasgow, MSPs took part in a series of discussions on themes such as transport, mother and babies, health and mental health, ESOL provision, interpreters and housing.

One of the people who gave evidence to the committee hearing was Ibironke, who is using her first name only. The mother-of-four came to Scotland just over a year ago from Nigeria with two of her children.

The youngsters are settled in a school in Glasgow now but the family faced a traumatic start to life in the city when they were moved from hotel accommodation to hotel accommodation before being offered a permanent home.

Ibironke said: "I faced a lot of challenges when I came here and was staying in the hotels.

"The experience I had was quite traumatising for me and mentally draining but the committee gave me the chance to tell my experience and suggesting to them what could be done [to improve things]."

Pinar Aksu, Human Rights and Advocacy Coordinator at Maryhill Integration Network, said issues such as access to Bus Pass Travel, ESOL services, staying in communities rather than hotel accommodation and the impact on mental health and wellbeing were key areas for those who spoke.

She added: "We hope the evidence provided by the people who are currently navigating the asylum process will contribute to positive changes in Scotland. 

"We were delighted to host the committee members as well as many other organisations at Maryhill Integration Network premises. 

"We hope the voices of the people are heard and it will contribute to changes in Scotland."

Ms Stewart said that Scotland's approach to welcoming asylum seekers is world's apart from the current hostile environment policy organised by the Westminster government. 

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While Scottish politicians are limited in terms of making changes to immigration law, third sector organisations argue there are areas where the Scottish Parliament could go further.

Housing and hotel accommodation emerged as a key theme, as did access to free transport and regulating interpreters to ensure interpretation services are accurate. 

For those living in rural areas there are issues with a lack of services. 

Some simple suggestions were also made, such as ensuring hotel residents are the only key holder for their to give them privacy and protect their dignity.

Ms Stewart said: "The vision and direction coming [from the Scottish Parliament] is that we are an open country and we need people. 

"Scotland is not full up and we need everybody to play their part to make a buoyant economy.

"In Scotland we are much better at calling out racism and discrimination, we're much better at challenging it and, as a much smaller country, we are more connected within our communities." 

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Ibironke added: "With everything said [at the committee hearing] I am hopeful there will be a change because I am not just speaking for myself, I am speaking for other people who cannot speak for themselves.

"There will be a voice for the voiceless so our voices are heard. We are hopeful and we are praying for that."