Bringing communities together
A new student and staff led project is empowering Syrian refugees to participate fully in the Edinburgh community.
Building a new life
Imagine fleeing your home, travelling thousands of miles across the world to start a new life in a new country, where everything is different. For the 2,562 Syrian refugees living in Scotland, this scenario has been a reality.
Nadin Akta, Outreach and Projects Co-ordinator at the Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, knows just how challenging building a new life in those circumstances can be. Nadin arrived in Edinburgh from Syria 11 years ago.
I arrived here without knowing the language or understanding the systems. I didn’t have any friends. It took me at least three, four years to settle here. That’s too long in a person’s life. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through and I feel I’m in a position to give help and support.
Since then she has built a successful life here and become a passionate advocate for Syrians. With the help of an alumni-funded Student Experience Grant she started Syrian Futures, a student and staff project to support refugees in Scotland.
Every month we receive one or two families. We get new teenagers and new adults with different circumstances and needs and it’s always great to see so many students who are so happy and keen to help and support.
Syrian Futures brings together refugees with Edinburgh students through events, activities and befriending to help develop language skills and provide access to education and employment. This practical support is much needed but the project also tackles the loneliness and isolation that many Syrian refugees experience.
At the beginning I felt like I couldn’t really engage with the people here, I couldn’t make any friends but now I feel really welcome. I want to take every opportunity I can to improve my language and to be able to access work and study.
Making an impact
Syrian Futures started as an idea, but now with financial support, it is making a real impact to people’s lives.
I was not really sure how Syrian Futures was going to happen. Now I can see the value of the money that we have got from the grant. I see the difference Syrian Futures has made to their lives; how they started to look for jobs, or improve their language and participate in education