Information/Welcome Pack for Newcomers

I moved to Edinburgh from Scandinavia in 2002.  I found it difficult to figure out how things worked in a Scottish city. This was in huge contrast to when I moved to Sweden from Canada, where I was born. After arriving and registering, the City of Stockholm sent me a really excellent Welcome Pack.

This contained information about how the national health service worked, how to find a place to stay, how to get a library card, TV licensing, what elections I was eligible to vote in, how the public transit system worked and a brochure about the museums. 

There was also information for people with children about daycare services and how to find out which schools your child was eligible to attend. There was information for motorists about driving in Sweden, and about how parking worked in the city.  There was also information about evening classes for adults and where you could learn Swedish.

All of the information was in several languages, and there was a loose sheet telling you what additional languages or large type you could order it in. There were also signposts to where you could find out more information on a variety of topics.


Why the contribution is important

A newcomer's success can be enhanced or scuppered depending on how quickly they are able to find their feet and become part of Scotland's cities. Information is key and therefore distributing information packs is an important service.

Here are a few annecdotes about my stay in Edinburgh, starting in 2002:

The only place where you could find available rooms when I moved to Edinburgh was the notice board in Real Foods on Broughton. It was crowded and stressful to stand there in their doorway, copying phone numbers off the notices. The first room I stayed in was with a couple who were on welfare. The woman had been sectioned and a few months after I left set the flat on fire. They refused to pay back my deposit when I moved, as they had spent it on a holiday.

Obviously, we now have the deposit service which is a huge improvement. Information about this should go in any information pack. We also have Gumtree and Spareroom online, which make it easier to find accommodation. But now, 15 years later, I still have to move about once a year because of the dreadful housing situation. There is no minimum standard of quality in operation for rooms or even flats. It brings shame upon our cities.

It was not until I took a job with the NHS that I discovered that you had to register with a GP. When I first arrived here, I emailed the NHS and asked to be sent some information about how the health service worked. I was sent a brochure that was purely marketing material and gave no information that would be of any use to a resident of a Scottish city.

I lost several opportunities to vote because there was no way to indicate dual citizenship on the form, and so I only indicated my Swedish citizenship and not the Canadian one. I found out just last spring that I was able to vote in the UK elections and not just the Scottish ones. Information about voting rights should definitely go in any information pack.

The first couple of weeks I lived here, I spent a fortune on bus tickets because It was not obvious enough that there was a day ticket available. Edinburgh is the only city I've been in where you can't transfer between buses on the same ticket within 1-2 hours. I also visited Glasgow a few times a year for about five years without discovering the Subway as the entrances were so unnoticeable. Glasgow buses are impossible to understand. I visited Aberdeen recently and found the bus network quite easy to understand, even if everyone there just complains about it.

by LillyLyle on November 19, 2015 at 01:33PM

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