The Food For All group is launching resources and workshops that are designed and delivered by people with lived experience of the asylum process. The Food For All:Dignity In Practiceworkshop is aimed at staff and volunteers delivering community food services, and provides space to reflect and learn from the very people who use those services.
This workshop is being offered at a time when there is a human crisis right here on our doorstep. Asylum seekers are navigating a maze of barriers and obstacles to employment, education and food. The Food For All group raises awareness of the specific challenges people in the asylum process face, building understanding and empathy for those in that system, and inspires food providers to embed dignity in the heart of their practice.
Philippa Roloff, Food for All Project Lead, said: “We believe that everyone deserves dignified access to food. We believe that everyone working in community food provision should have the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of the asylum process, to adapt their practice and break down the barriers faced by community members in the asylum process.”
Through collaboration with Nourish Scotland, the Food For All group has been working on the DignityIn Practice Project since 2020. We are delighted to finally be sharing the expertly created workshop with community food providers. Our FREE, certified workshops are an opportunity for teams to come together with people with lived experience of the asylum system in a safe space to reflect and learn from each other.
By better understanding each other’s needs, we can help build capacity in community food settings and the communities they serve, to support each other and promote the dignity of everyone.
On November 24th , 2021, a group of people – each unique and dearly loved – slowly froze to death in the icy waters of the English Channel while waiting for a rescue that never came.
Twenty-seven bodies were recovered and four are still missing, adding to the pain of the families – twenty-one men, seven women including one who was pregnant, and three children.
Today, two years on from this tragedy, we remember and honour them, alongside many more precious lives lost on dangerous journeys to the UK – we may never know exactly how many.
On that catastrophic night, their flimsy boat left France at around 10pm, but close to midnight, it began to deflate and sink in the middle of the Channel. Between 2am and 4am, the passengers called the French and English authorities many times begging for help. But no one came.
The French authorities told them they were in British waters, and British officials told them they were in French waters. The transcripts of those desperate calls make for difficult reading – one passenger indicates that they are literally “in the water”. “Yes, but you are in English waters, Sir,” is the reply. At around 3am the boat overturned, tipping all passengers into the water, where some drowned because of the waves. Over time, others resigned themselves to letting go as they were overwhelmed by the cold.
Eleven hours later – at 2pm the next day – a French fisherman spotted the bodies in the water and raised the alarm. When the French coastguard finally arrived, they found only two survivors.
We will never let the lives lost that night, or those of loved ones lost since, be forgotten. And for their families, we demand justice and change. We long for people seeking safety on British shores to be seen as human beings, deserving of rights, compassion and dignity. Tragedies like this occur because of the ‘othering’ our politicians insist on – of the dehumanising of sons and fathers, mothers and daughters,
friends and family members.
This rhetoric must change. And so must this government’s policies. Humans in search of safety deserve just that. This means safe routes for all refugees wishing to come to the UK – we need to improve resettlement and refugee family reunion schemes and make it easier for people to travel to the UK to claim asylum. That is the only way these tragedies will end. We stand alongside the families of the victims, as they demand answers as to why French and British authorities failed desperate people who came asking for help. They also need to know when the results of the Article 2 Inquiry will be made public. The families have already waited two long years and deserve answers.
As a society that values compassion, we know that people fleeing the worst the world has to offer should be met with kindness. So, we demand that the division and fear of anti-migrant rhetoric used by some political leaders, is replaced with the empathy and respect that many people and communities across Britain show to refugees every day. We can, and must do better : people’s lives depend on it.
Zana Mamand Mohammad relative of Twana Mamand Mohammad
Mstafa Mina Nabi relative of Zaniar Mstafa Mina
Rasul Farkha Husein relative of Pshtiwan Rasul Farkha
Saman Abubakir Alipour relative of Sirwan Abubakir Alipour
Husen Mohammad relative of Mahammad Husen Mohammad
Sarhad Pirot Mohammad relative of Sarkawt Pirot Mohammad
Shamal Ali Pirot relative of Shakar Ali Pirot
Ahmad Mohammad Akoyi relative of Afrasia Ahmad Mohammad
Abdulkarim Hamd Abdulrahman relative of Bryar Hamd Abdulrahman
Ismail Hamd Qadir relative of Muslim Ismail Hamd
Rizgar Husen Hamd relative of Kajal Ahmad Khizir
Hadye Rizgar Husen
Mubin Rizhar Husen
Hasti Rizgar Husen
Yasin Husen Hamd relative of Rezhwan Yasin Hasan
Qadir Abdullah relative of Mohammad Qadir Abdullah
Omar Mohammed relative of Hassan Mohammed Ali
Ali Mohammed relative of Hassan Mohammed Ali
Emebet Kefyalew Gizaw relative of Fikeru Shiferaw Tekalegn
Freedom From Torture
Scottish Refugee Council
Today (Wednesday 15 November) the Supreme Court ruled the UK Government’s Rwanda plan is unlawful.
Govan Community Project is very happy that the correct ruling was made by the Supreme Court on the Rwanda Plan, however we share continued concerns with our colleagues across the sector of the UK Government’s ongoing inhumane treatment of those seeking safety.
We stand with over 100 of our sector colleagues, issuing the following joint statement.
We are relieved today that the Supreme Court has made the right decision and declared that Rwanda is not a safe country for this government to send people needing safety. The Rwanda plan was always cruel and immoral. We urge the Government to immediately abandon such plans with Rwanda or with any other country, and instead protect the rights of people who have come to our country in search of sanctuary.
While we welcome the decision today, we remain concerned by this Government’s overall treatment of people who move to this country. We are alarmed by this Government’s continuous efforts to detain and forcibly send people to countries where they may not know anyone, especially if it puts them at risk of harm and human rights violations. We know that as a community we are compassionate and welcoming, and we need immigration policies that are rooted in that same care, compassion, and respect for human rights. We call on everyone to stand up for the rights of people seeking sanctuary, regardless of where they come from or how they travel here.
Signed (as of noon Wednesday 15 November 2023)
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
Doctors of the World UK
Welsh Refugee Council
Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)
Bail for Immigration Detainees
René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights
Freedom from Torture
Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
North Wales Regional Equality Network
Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)
Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID)
Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT UK)
Humans for Rights Network
Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
Scottish Refugee Council
Helen Bamber Foundation
The William Gomes Podcast
New Citizens’ Gateway
West London Welcome
Student Action for Refugees (STAR)
Afghan Association Paiwand
Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN)
Our Second Home
St Augustine’s Centre, Halifax
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit
Good Chance Theatre
The Runnymede Trust
Hope at Home
Voices in Exile
Refugee Support Group (Berkshire)
Ice and Fire Theatre
Reading City of Sanctuary
Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group
Hastings Supports Refugees
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign
Hastings Community of Sanctuary
Herts for Refugees
City of Sanctuary UK
Bristol Refugee Rights
Da’aro Youth Project
Reunite Families UK
Migrants’ Rights Network
Public Law Project
Together with Migrant Children
JRS UK (Jesuit Refugee Service)
Here for Good
Open Rights Group
National AIDS Trust
Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG)
People in Motion
Refugee and Migrant Centre (West Midlands)
Refugee Women Connect
LGBT Health and Wellbeing (Scotland)
The VOICES Network
HOPE not hate
African Rainbow Family
Manchester Migrant Solidarity
Birmingham City of Sanctuary
Birmingham Schools of Sanctuary
House of Rainbow CIC
Hope and Aid Direct
Inclusive Mosque Initiative
Kanlungan Filipino Consortium
Time To Be Out
Durham Visitors Group
Lewes Organisation in Support of Refugees & Asylum Seekers
Reclaim The Sea
Big Leaf Foundation
Muslim Council of Britain
Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield
Asylum Support Appeals Project
Stand For All
Migration Justice Project, Law Centre NI
Refugee Legal Support
South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice
Refugee and Migrants Forum of Essex and London
Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network
Nottingham Arimathea Trust
Govan Community Project
Simon Community Scotland
The Pickwell Foundation
Refugees at Home
Southeast and East Asian Centre (SEEAC)
Room to Heal
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
The Advice and Advocacy Team will be closing the helpline for one week starting Monday 30th October 2023.
Please note that our voicemail will not operate after midnight on 29th October until we reopen at 10am on Monday 6th November 2023.
Some members of the A&A team will be available that week to respond to requests about existing cases, although we might be slower to respond. The firstname.lastname@example.org will be monitored during this period for queries about existing cases.
When the helpline reopens on 6th November, the number will still be 0800 310 0054. The helpline will run at the same opening times between 10am and 1pm Monday to Thursday.
Govan Community Project has recently started a new year-long project called Ending Destitution Together (EDT).
GCP, in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council, previously worked closely with the Scottish Government and COSLA on the development of the Ending Destitution Together Strategy. The strategy aims to improve the outcomes and support options for people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) living in Scotland.
Our new EDT project represents communities affected by the UK government’s NRPF policy, made up of group members with lived experience.
The group has started planning their year-long research and advocacy project, with meetings with the Scottish government as well as partnerships with a range of national and local organisations to give our political leaders a solid understanding of the effects of destitution on Scotland’s population.
We spoke to our Ending Destitution Together Coordinator Rago to find out more about the project.
Who is involved in the Ending Destitution Together project?
The Participatory Action Research (PAR) group is a group of people from across Scotland who have lived experience of destitution or who are at risk of destitution with NRPF by the current UK immigration policy. Some are survivors from destitution in the past, others are currently faced with this situation.
The project ensures that the voices of individuals directly impacted by destitution/risk of destitution caused by immigration policy are heard, and their knowledge and experiences valued as equal co-production partners in policy development. We say nothing for us without us.
What will the research look at?
Many people are facing destitution for different reasons; it could be someone who had their asylum claim rejected and is awaiting appeal, or someone whose visa has expired, but they have no place to go. These people have NRPF, so they can’t fulfil their basic needs. If you can’t work or access public funds it’s very hard. I have seen some people destitute for a period get back into the system, some can be stuck in this cycle for 15 or 20 years. Image a person stuck without status for 20 years, what can they do?
People have individual needs, but there’s also general needs. We will be researching what sort of things would be helpful to those people, what kind of support they need from the government and local authorities. In my other role as the GCP Men’s Group Coordinator, I noticed how many barriers people face, but they don’t talk about it. So first we need to build trust for people to share.
What do you hope to achieve?
We have one year to do this research, to speak to people across Scotland to understand all the issues. From this research we are hoping to get an accurate account of the situation and use it as evidence to present to the Scottish Government.
Who says learning only takes place in the classroom? Our ESOL students have been on a trip to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, helping in the Rose Garden at Elder Park and cooking a meal with Kin Kitchen, all with the purpose of learning language through activity and building community. Our ESOL Coordinator Jess explains more about the recent activities.
On Monday 25th September a group of ESOL learners, volunteer tutors and GCP staff went to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. We had a look around the exhibitions and at the different artefacts and had lots of interesting discussions together in English. Learners and volunteers talked about Scottish history, nature and art and design, and were able to make comparisons with their own countries. After a delicious lunch in the café we had a walk in the sun around Kelvingrove Park. A fantastic day all round!
Rose Garden, Elder Park
On Wednesday 11th October three ESOL students went to Elder Park in Govan to help with some much needed weeding in the beautiful rose garden. This is a collaboration with Moogety Grub Hub which encourages students and local people to get together to chat and practice their English whilst getting their hands dirty! Our hard-working students braved the cold and the wind to spend a few hours clearing one of the rose beds, leaving it looking fantastic. We hope to go back together soon for some more gardening and chats.
On Monday 16th October Jess and Lottie from Kin Kitchen came to Govan to deliver a cooking class to our ESOL students. We had a very fun afternoon working together to make a delicious meal of aubergine and lentil curry and cucumber salad. Our learners got the opportunity to put into practice the cooking vocabulary we have been looking at in class and learnt new words and verbs to use in the kitchen. This was the first of a series of cooking classes and we are excited to see what Kin Kitchen has next in store for us!
This is the second year we have run Homework Club activities throughout the summer- and it was a very busy one! We welcomed some new children, along with several kids who moved up to S1, that joined us in the older high school group. With a focus on activities requested by our wonderful attendees, we delved into a little bit of everything. Homemade pizzas made from scratch, and some interesting sandwiches carefully crafted. A task-based game became a firm favourite, as kids battled it out over who could make the best plate of food from things outside, or best set of silly goggles.
In the little snippets of Scottish summer heat, the kids made ice lollies and played outside, adorning the concrete at the community flat with chalk drawings and going head-to-head in serious games of limbo. When the clouds rolled in, we got stuck into arts and crafts, making clay animals and monsters, creating personalised mugs, and doing lots of painting. We ended the summer with a back to school party with bubbles, games, crafts and balloons, celebrating the end of a great summer and a return to school time.
From mid to late June, many of the children and young people who attend Homework Club celebrated Eid al-Adha. In the lead up to this, kids made the most of the arts and crafts materials in the flat, making cards and Eid-themed decorations to take home for family celebrations. It is great fun to be able to support children in this way, learning more about the different cultures and traditions the children celebrate, while engaging in creative activities.
We were also delighted to be invited to Aerial Edge in Ibrox for a Intro to Circus Skills workshop for the older group. After a thorough warm up, the young people who attended got to try a range of activities. Throughout the day, the young people tried spinning plates, acrobatic arts and juggling. Once warmed up we moved onto the trampoline, with some impressive flips and jumps, and other aerial activities. The silks, ropes and aerial hoop were a big hit, with the young people quickly showing up the Homework Club staff with their skills.
A huge thank you to Aerial Edge for their time. We look forward to coming back with our younger group, and already have some of the older group looking at signing up for sessions themselves.
Glasgow Science Center
While the older group went on a trip to Aerial Edge, our younger homework club group attended the Glasgow Science Center. With more activities than could possibly be done in one day, the kids made the most of the trip, running between rooms of visual illusions and exploring the science behind how our bodies work. We ended the trip in the Planetarium, learning all about our night sky, zooming in close to planets and stars, and looking back on our own planet earth. Thank you to all the staff at the Science Center for answering our questions and pointing us in the direction of the best things to do and see.
More than 175,000 people are awaiting a decision on whether they will be granted refugee status in the UK. Many people wait years for an outcome- forced to live in limbo.
During this time, most people seeking asylum live on just over £5 a day, are not permitted to work, and are accommodated and supported in a system that was never designed to be used over the long term.
One of our community member’s shared their experience of life in the asylum system- they wish to remain anonymous.
“I arrived in the UK at 20 years old. I didn’t know then that all my twenties would be spent in the asylum process. During this time we had two children, I tried to raise my kids as best I could.
No one wants to beg for food for their kids or themselves. But the situation forces people there, they can’t work. I remember just eating 20p noodles a day so I could buy the cream for my baby’s eczema.
You can’t choose a home for your family. We were put in an area with drug dealers, once my husband was attacked; we were scared. Our children experienced racism, even though they were born in this country, it’s like they don’t have the same value, they should be respected and treated equally like any other kid.
It’s stressful seeing your children comparing themselves to other kids, they ask why they don’t have those toys, they don’t have the same bags and shoes, why they can’t go to McDonalds. We have patience for ourselves, but seeing our children upset with tears in their eyes, it’s so stressful.
We had to stay at home for nine years, we didn’t have money to go anywhere. We feel the best part of our life was wasted, we couldn’t enjoy life as we should. It’s depressing staying at home all the time. We went through this experience for a very long time, we don’t want anyone else to go through this.
Life is much better now, we have status, my husband can work. I work with GCP to share my experience to help make the asylum process easier for new people. Everyone has different situations and experiences, but we are not alone in the process.”
Govan Community Project is one of 34 organisations to receive funding from the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland.
The fund supports self management for people living with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers across Scotland, enabling people to be in the driving seat of their health, care and wellbeing.
The funding will allow Govan Community Project to establish and develop a mental health group
support programme for people seeking asylum. The charity will run three, four to six week long group programmes, as well as a range of one of sessions focused on themes identified by the community which will increase knowledge, access and ways of coping.
Sara Redmond, Chief Officer of Development at the ALLIANCE said:
“Everyone has the right to live well with dignity and respect yet for too many people and communities the cost of living crisis comes on top of worsening health inequalities arising from more than a decade of austerity and exacerbated by the pandemic. Self management approaches can support people to live better, with greater options for support, and reduce some of the burden of these inequalities.
“The ALLIANCE is pleased to be able to support a further round of projects working with diverse communities across Scotland, developing a wide range of approaches designed and delivered in partnership with the people they aim to support, providing the third sector vital resources to respond to this challenging climate.”
The Govan Community Project helpline will be closed for two weeks starting Monday 14th August to allow members of the Advice & Advocacy team to take annual leave.
The helpline will reopen on Monday 28th August, with the regular opening times: Monday – Thursday 10am-1pm.
The team will not be able to take referrals from other agencies during that time and our voicemail will not operate after midnight on Sunday 13th August, until we reopen at 10am on the Monday 28th August.
Some members of the Advice & Advocacy team will be available during this time to respond to requests about existing cases- please note responses might be slower than usual.
The Court of Appeal has today (Thursday 29 June) ruled the UK Government plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda is unlawful.
Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity at Govan Community Project, responded to the news:
“We were really delighted to hear the Appeal Court ruled that the UK Government’s cruel plan to send people seeking safety to Rwanda was unlawful. We extend our congratulations to all of those directly involved in the fight for this case who have fought long and hard to stand up against this inhumane proposal.
This ruling confirms what refugees and campaigners have said all along – that Rwanda is not a safe third country for people seeking asylum. As the judges said, there is a real risk people trying to escape persecution and brutality would not get a fair hearing in Rwanda and instead be returned to the country they originally fled from.
This ruling is a victory for human decency, but it comes after a year of fear and uncertainty for many people who simply asked for our help. What for this government may be a dream headline, is for those seeking safety, a threat of being torn away from family and friends. It has caused sleepless nights, mental health breakdowns and a climate of fear.
We urge this government to accept the court’s ruling, scrap the Refugee Ban Bill, and work with refugees and charities to create an asylum system that is compassionate, effective and fair and we urge everyone in communities across the UK to lobby their government representatives to scrap the Refugee Ban Bill and develop policy and legislation which reflects the responsible, welcoming nation that we know we are!”
Govan Community Project is looking for new members to join the Community Samba Group.
The group meets weekly to practise the lively and energetic samba routines.
They have taken part in several events, such as performing in the Govan Parade and at a Diversity Festival.
Since joining the group, Maria has learned to play the drum and another instrument. She told us why she loves the band: “Personally for me the band is like a therapy, if you are tired or have some kind of problem then you forget and concentrate on the music. I really enjoy the human warmth of the group and their kindness.”
You don’t need any previous experience to join, as group leader Tina will be on hand to provide tuition. All the instruments are provided.
Tina said: “Samba is such fun, you can’t help but smile when you hear the band grooving. Just try it! All of the people in the band are so lovely. You’ll have fun and learn a new skill and make friends.”
The group meet on Monday at 18:00-19:00 at Clyde Community Hall, 41 Whitefield Road, Ibrox, G51 2YB.
For more information send a Whatsapp message to 07443 964017.
This month, the Scottish Government finally published its much-anticipated plan to end the need for food banks in Scotland. “Cash-First: Towards Ending the Need for Food Banks in Scotland” sets out a human rights approach to tackling food insecurity and outlines nine collaborative actions the government will take over the next three years to improve the response to financial hardship and start to reduce the need for emergency food parcels.
The paper summarises the range of preventative actions the Scottish Government will take that will help realise the long-term vision of ending the need for food banks by improving incomes and reducing costs. Below is the summary of the nine actions identified by the government to improve the response to the crisis.
Govan Community Project’s Food for All Group has been involved in the consultation process, providing testimonials and advice from experts by experience, particularly around food insecurity in the asylum process.
Philippa Roloff, Food Projects Lead at Govan Community Project, said:
“The plan is undoubtedly groundbreaking- it’s the first of its kind not only in the UK, but across the world. We applaud the Scottish Government’s unflinching and explicit condemnation of the UK government’s policies that have ‘inflicted’ poverty and harm. However, mention of the UK government’s hostile environment policies is notably absent, as are any meaningful actions that will benefit the thousands of people in the asylum process in Scotland who are forced to rely on food banks long term, because of the shamefully low asylum support payments.
“Given the involvement of GCP’s Food for All Group in the Scottish Government’s Direct Experience Reference Group and the consultation process, we are especially disappointed that the plan does not go further to end the need for food banks for all.”
Govan Community Project has partnered with Bike for Good to launch a new block of community cycling sessions this summer.
The sessions start on Tuesday 11 July and will run for eight weeks. During this time cyclists will be able to build their confidence, meet new friends and learn new skills in bike maintenance.
Our Bike Library Coordinator Siraj will be leading the group cycles from our Bike Library at Moss Heights on Tuesdays from 10am- 12pm.
Sessions are free of charge, for more information call or message Siraj on 07392 590291.
Refugee Festival Scotland kicked off on Friday 16 June, with events taking place across the country. The festival celebrates the huge contribution people from refugee backgrounds make to life in Scotland.
Along with showcasing artwork and cultural heritage of New Scots, the festival also aims to reduce loneliness and isolation by bring refugees and people seeking asylum together with people in the communities they live in.
It takes place each year on the lead up to World Refugee Day on 20 June. This is an important time to raise awareness of the difficulties facing people who seek safety in Scotland, and how we can work together to overcome these.
Govan Community Project kick-started the festival with a Community Celebration Day in Govan & Linthouse Parish Church on Friday 16 June. There was good food, music and activities aimed at bringing the community together.
Thanks to Music Broth, Falafel Amo, New Anand, Ianthe Hope Face Paint, and our lovely community members who created brilliant henna designs.
From 1- 7 June it’s Volunteers’ Week, an annual event that sees charities, voluntary groups, social organisations, and volunteers themselves come together to recognise the incredible impact that volunteering has in communities around the UK.
The theme for this year– ‘Celebrate and Inspire’ – aims to highlight that our diversity is our strength, show that there is more than one way to volunteer and encourage people to be the change that we want to see.
Volunteers have always been right at the heart of what we do at Govan Community Project. From ESOL tutors, to session facilitators and even painters and decorators, we couldn’t run the charity without their support.
Petra Hardie, Volunteer Coordinator at GCP, said: “Our volunteers have always been right at the heart of what we do at GCP. They bring a wealth of skills and experience to their roles, as well as kindness and a sense of community. We couldn’t do it without them. So taking the time during Volunteers’ Week to celebrate and recognise their efforts and all they contribute to the charity and their community is so important.”
Follow our social media this week to hear from a few of our volunteers.
Govan Community Project is proud to be joining 100 organisations across Scotland speaking out against the UK Gov’s cruel Refugee Ban Bill.
If passed, it will remove the right of most people to claim asylum in the UK, no matter how great their need for refugee protection. It will slam the door on survivors of trafficking and people fleeing war, torture and persecution.
We cannot stand by and do nothing. We are calling for the UK Gov to scrap its Refugee Ban Bill and open safe routes so people don’t have to risk their lives on dangerous journeys to find a place of safety.
We are clear. Scotland rejects the Refugee Ban Bill!