Thank you for a wonderful festival. We’ll be back next summer for more.

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful Refugee Festival Scotland 2018.

A special huge thanks goes to all the performers, organisers, artists, hosts, participants, volunteers, young people, old people, families, kids, New Scots, old Scots, international guests and visitors… Everyone who came along and took part played a role in strengthening our communities and creating a culture of friendship and welcome towards newcomers in Scotland.

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. We hope our festival opened a door for people to make new connections and find out something new about the many cultures we are privileged to live alongside.

We’re taking a break now but will be busy planning next year’s festival soon. You can sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our plans here:

Or follow our year-round work with the refugee community in Scotland here:

Thanks and see you next year,

The festival team

Honouring World Refugee Day 2018

Scottish Refugee Council CEO, Sabir Zazai, reflects on World Refugee Day 2018 

“Today is an important day for me personally and for all of us at Scottish Refugee Council as we raise awareness around the plight of refugees and their courage and aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children. It is an important day on which I acquired this name tag ‘refugee’ and all the stigmas and joy attached with it.

As a former refugee this day reminds me of the terrible conflict I had to flee, the pain of separation, the perilous journey, the complex asylum system and the journey from a stranger into a citizen.

But today also reminds me of the people who arrived at the same time, their resilience and audacity that helped transform communities at many levels. I am thinking of hardworking brave people, who despite many challenges strived to make the utmost contribution to their adopted homes. Today, when I look into the social media networks through which I keep in touch with many friends with whom I share the journey of asylum, I see businessmen and women, activists, community workers, shopkeepers, teacher assistants, nurses, bus and taxi drivers, all doing their share to enrich us socially, economically and culturally. Over the years I have observed many new flavours and colours that add richness to our vibrant and diverse communities.

I also think back to some amazing people who offered us a warm welcome and gave us a reason to hope. The local communities, organisations and individuals who said: ‘You might have lost everything and have gone through terrible experiences but you are welcome here.’Those smiling faces who listened and cared for us as we were trying to find our way through the asylum system.

Almost twenty years after my arrival, it is sad to see that despite the consistent positive response of communities not much has changed at policy level for those who need our sanctuary and protection. There are many injustices and threats to our commitment to refugee protection, mainly resulting from the UK Government ‘hostile environment’ policy and the uncertainty around Brexit. Whilst the world is in the grip of one of the biggest refugee displacements, some of the richest nations invest in building borders leading to no safe and legal routes for people to get to safety. Sadly, we shut doors and treat people who have every right to seek protection like criminals. We continue to detain people and deny many their rights that force families and individuals into poverty and destitution. We spend more on enforcement than integration of refugees and their skills.

Refugees bring unique gifts and much potential but unfortunately the UK misses out on this as we don’t allow people the right to work while seeking asylum. With investment in integration and allowing people the chance to play an active role through employment or volunteering we can transform lives often shattered by war and conflict.

History proves that the UK has benefited a lot from people arriving at these islands over generations. At its best we are a welcoming society and one that is proud of its diversity but it is important not to be distracted from some of the obvious threats to our values and commitment to people who are in need of protection. There is a need for a human rights based approach to protecting refugees, so today is an important opportunity to join the voices around the world and send a strong message that refugee rights are our rights. We want people to be moved from war into prosperity, not poverty or detention.

So, whatever you do today to celebrate the World Refugee Day make sure you raise awareness through sharing some of the powerful stories and local communities who have continued to offer a warm welcome to their new neighbours, friends and colleagues.

This World Refugee Day I reach to you to connect with one another, build bridges across differences. If you’re a refugee simply say hello to your neighbours and tell them about your story and those of others. If you are a member of the local community that has resettled refugees, tell them that they are welcome, just like those kind-hearted people who welcomed me  all those years ago. It’s never a better time to share what we have with those who have lost everything due to no mistake of their own.

Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards 2018 winners announced

The winners of this year’s Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards have been announced at a ceremony in Glasgow.

The awards celebrate the work of journalists in Scotland who have covered refugee and asylum issues fairly, accurately and with care and insight over the last twelve months.

This year we received more entries than ever before, with an extremely strong shortlist including news, features, broadcast and student journalism. Full list of winners and runners-up is included below.

Scottish Refugee Council’s media manager Pauline Diamond Salim said: “The Refugee Festival media awards are a way to honour and celebrate the  quality human rights reporting being done in Scotland. We know we are lucky at Scottish Refugee Council to work with so many talented and committed journalists. It’s a real privilege for us to work with people throughout the year on stories that need to be told.”

The awards were hosted by Scottish Refugee Council in partnership with the British Red Cross and the National Union of Journalists Scotland and were held at the Corinthian Club after being relocated following the fire at Glasgow School of Art.

2018 media awards winners

News category

Winner:  Karin Goodwin, Sunday Herald

Runner-up: Kirsteen Paterson, The National

Features category

Winner: Liam Kirkaldy, Holyrood Magazine

Runner-up: Stephen Stewart, Daily Record

Local press category

Winner: Daniel Lawson, BBC Radio Shetland

Runner-up: Christina O’Neill, Glasgow Live

Online / multimedia category

Winner: Karin Goodwin & Angela Catlin, The Ferret

Runner-up: Stefan Bienkowski, The TwoPointOne

Broadcast and film category

Winner: Firecrest Films

Runner-up: Chris Harvey, STV

Student journalist

Winner: Naina Bhardwaj, Blasting News

HOME – Photography Exhibition

HOME – Photography Exhibition

Cranhill Development Trust will be hosting HOME, a photographic exhibition on the 20th of June, coinciding with World Refugee Day and Refugee Festival Scotland 2018.

Over the past two months, our group have been getting together each week for photographic workshops, exploring themes of home and memory. Alanna Gow, the facilitator, is in the midst of her research on the integration processes for refugees and asylum seekers living in Glasgow.

This photographic project seeks to explore Glasgow from the perspective of those directly involved in these processes. More than anything, this exhibition celebrates the diverse creative skills here at Cranhill.

The Museum Without A Home finds refuge in Glasgow

The Museum Without A Home finds refuge in Glasgow

A backpack. A toy car. Some colouring books. A letter.

Don’t let these familiar items fool you; there’s more to them than meets the eye. Each object has a powerful story to tell: of despair, terror, exhaustion, but also of warmth, hospitality and humanity.

The Museum Without A Home is a free, award-winning exhibition of small acts of kindness created by Oxfam and Amnesty International – which opens on Monday 18 June at Glasgow City Chambers.

The everyday objects on display were given by British and Greek people to people in need of protection in Greece and the UK, to comfort them and help to make the difficulties of daily life more manageable. These objects represent the solidarity displayed and symbolise friendships that have been formed over many months.

The exhibition was originally shown in Athens in 2016 and has since been displayed in New York, Belfast, Belgrade and Ottawa. It has now gained a number of objects given by people in the UK to recently-arrived refugees, including a heart-warming letter fae a local donated by Refuweegee.

If you’re looking for a powerful antidote to European governments’ hostility towards refugees then Museum Without A Home is for you.

Each item represents a bridge; an outstretched hand of friendship; the kindness of strangers.

Museum Without A Home will be at Glasgow City Chambers from Monday 18 June until Friday 22 June.