CRP notes: Out-of-reach or outreach?

CRP notes: Out-of-reach or outreach?

At Citizens Rights Project, we support EU nationals in Scotland through a mix of client services and outreach activities. While our caseworkers often work on EU Settlement Scheme applications, we also connect with partners, stakeholders, and policymakers to represent the interests of EU nationals in Scotland. In this blog post, we share a glimpse into our recent outreach activities, including meetings with influential figures and collaborations with other organisations.

Why out-of-reach?

Many of our clients, when thinking about Citizens Rights Project, probably imagine our staff members sitting in our small but cosy office in Edinburgh meeting with clients in-person or via Zoom offering support with EU Settlement Scheme applications. While this is very often true -especially for our busy caseworker Elisabeth– and has been the core of our work for many years, it is not always the case. From time to time, our staff are “out of reach,” away from their desks, undertaking other types of work that are equally important.

Alongside the extensive support work that we provide to vulnerable EU nationals, we also conduct a lot of outreach activities, and last week was a great example of how this looks in practise.

Out there, reaching.

For the three days in a row, from Monday to Wednesday, our outreach officer, Pawel, attended  the Scottish Trades Union Congress‘ annual conference in Dundee to promote the work and services offered by our organisation. Such a long stay in one place is quite unusual for him, as he can be typically travells from one location to another or joins several online meeting, switching bewteen Teams to Zoom. Sometimes, he combines joining an online meeting while being at an event, or just replies to emails when he’s not busy talking to people.

While Pawel was busy connecting with new organisations and legal firms -supported by either Monika or Elisabeth throughout the three days, as engaging with a wider audience for more than eight hours, three day in a row, would be a huge task for just one person- back in Edinburgh, our organisation was represented by Noelia, our Coordinator, at, not one, but two meetings with EU Ambassador in the UK, Pedro Serrano. These frequent meetings with the Ambassador do not stem from any close personal relationship we have with  him, but from the fact that, as part of our outreach activities, we are part of many forums and networks that keep a close eye on issues experienced by EU nationals in Scotland and the UK.

Among other things, Noelia discussed with the Ambassador and representatives of the Scottish and UK Governments a pressing concern for organisations providing free immigration advice, like the Citizens Rights Project. The Home Office is consulting with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) on a proposal to charge fees to organisations, including charities and community groups, that currently offer free immigration advice. If implemented, this proposal could force many organisations to stop providing these services, exacerbating an already critical shortage of immigration advisors, where demand far exceeds supply.

To support our cause and help keep free immigration advice available, we encourage you to sign our petition on 38 Degrees: Free Immigration Advice is Under Threat.

These were not the only times we had the pleasure of meeting the Ambassador last week. After returning from Dundee, Pawel travelled to Glasgow for a meeting of the European Citizens Forum, which also had the opportunity to host the EU Ambassador. We promise we’re not stalking him. It’s just that discussing the topic of EU migration in Scotland often leads to crossing paths with someone from the Citizens Rights Project.

Why Outreach Matters

While supporting EU nationals in Scotland is still our biggest priority and we are very proud of the number of individuals who receive our direct support, outreach is also a big part of our work.

Thanks to conferences like the one in Dundee and hundreds of online meetings, we had an opportunity to meet potential new partners like Advice Direct Scotland, TUC Education, Quilter Financial Advisers, Fair Work Convention or Thompsons Solicitors. Each of these organisations was impressed by the work we’re doing and expressed interest in collaborating with us on our upcoming projects. We hope you will soon learn more about the services and support they provide. Without such meetings , we wouldn’t be able to deliver as many workshops on housing or employment rights, and our advisers wouldn’t be able to signpost or refer our clients to other organisations when their needs goes beyond our scope of work.

However, outreach isn’t just about networking; it’s also about raising awareness of the needs and issues of EU nationals among other support organisations. In the near future, Pawel will be delivering training to NHS staff in Arbroath and to Forth Sector in Edinburgh, ensuring that those working with vulnerable EU nationals daily have the knowledge to effectively support their service users. If they require additional assistance, we are available to help or direct them to appropriate resources. Since we can’t directly reach every EU national in Scotland from our offices, we rely on our outreach efforts to connect with other organisations that can extend our reach in local communities across Scotland.

Last but not least, outreach also involves attending meetings, seminars, and networks dedicated to migration in Scotland, as well as other topics like healthcare and education. This allows us to represent the perspective of EU nationals in Scotland. The most effective way to reduce the issues affecting people who seek our support is to influence decision-makers and stakeholders by providing them with data that shows what policy changes, information, or support EU nationals in Scotland need.

Much of this work happens behind the scenes and sometimes only briefly appears on our social media as a photo or a short note about a meeting we’ve had. Nevertheless, it is a crucial part of our activities that make our work more effective. So, the next time one of our staff members is out-of-reach, it probably means they’re busy with outreach.

Want us to reach you?

No matter how busy we are with our outreach activities, it feels like there’s never enough!

If you think your community or organisation would benefit from a presentation by our outreach officer, or you’re organising an event and think our banner would look spectacular there, feel free to contact us at, and we would be delighted to arrange for someone to visit you.