Bring a refugee family to safety in your local community

“It’s so important to show that refugees are ordinary – but incredibly resilient – human beings, just like everyone else.”

We caught up with Kimie Riis Frengler from Sponsor Refugees, to find out more about the webinar they are co-hosting with Reset and The Edinburgh Refugee Sponsorship Circle, as part of this year’s festival. Join them at 6pm this evening (Thursday 17 June).

Tell us a little more about your event

It’s a chance for people to learn more about Community Sponsorship, a scheme that offers a safe and legal route for refugees to resettle in the UK. As the name suggests, Sponsorship is a community effort that brings together local communities and transforms not only the lives of the resettled families but also the communities that bring them here. For those who are keen to save lives and strengthen their communities in the process, this event is for you. 

What does Refugee Festival Scotland mean to you?

It is a celebration of what we cherish the most; a welcoming and open-hearted UK. For our organisation, it’s an opportunity to engage with local communities across Scotland to make the country and even more diverse and welcoming place.

Why is it important to celebrate refugee arts and culture in this way?

Many people associate the word “refugee” with a type of person, rather than a status. It’s so important to show that refugees are ordinary – but incredibly resilient – human beings, just like everyone else. Arts and culture are a great platform for exchanging ideas, ways of life and values, which is a crucial step in deepening understanding of our shared humanity. 

What are you most looking forward to about the festival?

We truly hope to see a big turnout at our event and hopefully generate some real awareness and interest in community sponsorship. We’re also looking forward to meeting people from other organisations run by and for refugee communities, so that we can join forces in our efforts to make Scotland a place of sanctuary and welcome.

Interested? Book your free ticket here. 

View the full programme for this year’s festival here. 

 

Finding a home as a Wikipedia editor

Ever wondered who writes all those Wikipedia entries? This workshop aims to give people from refugee backgrounds the skills and confidence to share their knowledge on the world’s largest encyclopaedia. We caught up with Abd Alsattar Ardati and Dr Kirsty Ross from IDEA Network at the University of St Andrews to find out more. 

Tell us a little bit about your event

Abd: We want to introduce people from under-represented communities to the idea of open knowledge and encourage them to have a go at becoming a Wikipedia editor.  

We have all used Wikipedia to look up interesting facts. Wikipedia can also be used as a tool for you to share your own knowledge about your culture, history and heritage. This can be extremely rewarding and valuable too! It’s a great way to improve your computer skills and give back to your community at the same time.

Kirsty: Wikipedia has always reflected biases in society, especially in terms of the knowledge that is found on the platform. It is heavily weighted towards Western knowledge and the English-speaking world.

We want to connect with communities and build relationships so that, together, we can redress that balance and enrich open knowledge with more diverse voices.

What does being part of Refugee Festival Scotland mean to you?

Abd: I have many friends and family members who are refugees. At one point in my journey, I was very close to seeking refugee status myself. This helps me to understand the community’s struggles, needs, and aspirations for a better future. It is important to feel that you are in a welcoming environment. I feel grateful for this opportunity to join people with whom I can relate.

Kirsty: It is an immense privilege to be part of the Festival. I only understand two languages (English and Scots), so I am in awe of those with knowledge of multiple languages! I’m incredibly excited that we will be able to create a safe space for folks to come together and share their knowledge with us – and with the rest of the world, via Wikipedia. 

Why do you think the festival is important?

Abd: I’ve always wanted to take part in an event that brings different people from different communities together. It is great to celebrate the things we have in common, but it is also enriching to exchange ideas around what makes us unique as communities and individuals. 

This year, so many people are experiencing feelings of isolation, which makes it even more necessary to set up channels of discussion among refugee communities. Conversations about culture are especially important because they are the glue that helps hold communities together. 

Kirsty: We’re looking forward to sharing our enthusiasm for open knowledge, meeting lots of new people, and playing our small part in amplifying the voices and knowledge of refugees on the world’s largest encyclopaedia!

The Finding a home as a Wikipedia editor workshop takes place from 2pm on Saturday, 19 June.

Get your free ticket here. 

View the full festival programme.