Every city has its own language – the slang, the idioms, the weird words and phrases that you only really know instinctively if you grow up there. Glasgow of course is no different. So how can people who arrive here speaking another language be expected to know that ginger means juice and aye right actually means no way?
Learning local slang and having fun in the process is just one of the many ways Interfaith Glasgow’s Weekend Club helps people feel more at home in the city.
The Club runs monthly get-togethers for newcomers including people seeking refugee protection.The main point of the club is to welcome people to the city, to extend hospitality, show welcome and make new people feel at home here. It’s a chance for people – refugees and locals – to get to know each other and meet new friends.
The Weekend Club grew from Interfaith Glasgow’s recognition that many people feel more alone and isolated at the weekends. The Club meets on the last Saturday of the month and visits galleries, parks, and other sites of interest around the city.
Lynnda Wardle, project manager at Interfaith Glasgow, explains:
“We try to include an element of educational value on our monthly visits and something that introduces people to an element of Scottish life for people who are new here,” says Lynnda. “It’s a way for people to learn about aspects of Scottish culture and improve their language skills in fun and relaxed settings. We also try to encourage cultural sharing, so we create space for people to share food, stories and traditions from their different national and faith backgrounds.”
One thing that makes the Weekend Club unique is that it is organised by volunteers from many diverse faiths. These volunteers plan and deliver all the club’s events. Many people who joined initially as participants are now volunteers themselves, supporting and welcoming newcomers. “It’s great to watch people grow in confidence over the course of their time in the Club,” says Lynnda.
At the moment the club has volunteers from several faiths including Sikh, Ba’hai, Muslim and Christian faiths, as well as people who are not religious.
“The ethos of interfaith work is to bring people from different faiths and beliefs together,” says Lynnda. “This is more important now than ever. It is crucial that we make sure our communities are open and diverse and welcoming. Faith communities are very open to supporting refugees and very supportive of our work as most faith traditions have a background in welcoming stories, welcoming strangers, looking after the persecuted and the lonely. Life is very difficult for people who are still in the asylum system. The system itself excludes people from mainstream society in so many ways – financially, socially, language can be difficult. People have so much to offer but years and years in the asylum system keeps people in a separate zone.”
One participant summed it up: “We can’t afford to go on trips and this was the first time we have travelled outside Glasgow! Thanks Weekend Club!”
And another said:“It was the best feeling ever; for me it feels like we are on a family holiday”;