Photography is being used to help asylum seekers integrate into new cities and cultures, as Mark Edmundson finds out.
ossay arriyed in (ilasgow' with little idea of
what Scotland might ol'l‘er him. An lithiopian
exile. he had been told that it was not only the Scottish weather that could he unkind. and he knew that although he was a lully trained nurse he would not he allowed to work while awaiting the result ol' his asylum application.
l‘ollowing a \isit l‘rom a council ol’licial. (iossay got inyoly ed in a series ol' tnultitnedia sessions run by (ilasgow‘s Street l.e\'el l’hotoworks gallery a yenture that resulted in more than just the production ol‘ a (‘D-Rom.
"l‘he project taught us how to take a picture. tnake a (‘l)-Rom. all these technologies. And although we were there tor a short period only. at that time I l‘elt it was better than sitting at home.‘ (iossay says. Today he appreciates the social importance ol‘ such schemes. ‘In general we are in a good community. hut it is hard to ntake lriends it you are not working or iny‘olyed in something. \Vithout programmes like the gallery you cannot meet people and make l'l‘icntls.'
New llori/ons is a lottery l‘unded project. run in partnership with the Scottish Rel‘ugee Council. and proyiding a tangible success l'or Street l.e\el. ‘lt's jttst turned out to lie a fantastic project — it worked so well.‘ says projects co-ordinator lseult 'l‘immermans.
:\n orientation tool for (ilasgow‘s international newcomers. who often arriye with little guidance or knowledge ol' the area. the (‘D-Rom is as concerned with indiyidual‘s etnotional orientation as the highlighting ol‘ usel'ul ports of information and assistance. "l‘he project is good for lessons in this technology. but it is also good to organise something like the (‘1) for the people who will come alter its. w ho will he strangers in the city.‘ stresses (iossay.
Street Leyel Photoworks has been running successl'ul creatiyc arts and training programmes in this community for the last four years and is the only arts organisation in Scotland to be awarded a grant from the
100 THE LIST .78 Saw" Oct
‘IT IS HARD TO MAKE FRIENDS IF YOU ARE NOT INVOLVED IN SOMETHING'
goy’ernment's recently announced l‘unding l‘or rcl‘ugec support projects and networks. l'iocusing largely on new media and photography skills. they ltay'e worked to help build participants' conlidence and act as a creatiye outlet while promoting an emphasis on the personal experiences ol asylum seekers and rcl‘ugees.
Last year saw the deyelopment ol a dynatnic w'ehsite project engaging participants in hasic word processing. internet and email. as well as black and white photography. Sessions take place at a community resource lacility on the ZSth l'loor ol' the \'.\l(':\ in the Red Road l'lats area. and the resulting website is ongoing and should he launched towards the end ol' this year.
Again acting as a creatiy'e outlet. the site will l‘eature poetry and stories ol‘ tact and liction. recipes and songs. ‘We‘re using these processes to engage people. and then we‘re happy with whatey er progress it helps them with personally] lseult explains.
The new lunding. announced last month. will allow Street l.e\el to continue its actiy'ities in the Red Road comtnunity with workshops for all ages. promoting integration between relugees and the place in which they lind themselyes. With a locus on the local area's history and function today it will. according to Street l.eycl director Malcolm Dickson. he another 'all singing. all dancing project'.
(iossay now works in one ol' (ilasgow‘s hospitals. lle appreciates that he is one of the l'ortunate ones. one or two ol' his group haying been turned away. The wider henelits ol‘ such a programme are not lost on him either. ‘lt's really important for asylum seekers to haye a way to say something ~ there are no other platl'orms for us to show what the lite ol' a rel’ugee or asylum seeker is like.'
Street Level Photoworks, 26 King Street, Glasgow, 0141 552 21 51, www.5l-photoworks.demon.co.uk
EDINBURGH CITY CAR CLUB
Imagine never having to search for hours for a parking space, never having to pay for your MOT. never having to pay attention to any annoying car insurance adverts on TV (imagine no more Michael Winnert). Edinburgh's 400-strong City Car Club - the largest of its kind in the UK - allows you access to one of 22 cars strategically parked throughout the city. which can be booked over the phone or online. The monthly membership fee is £15. with an hourly charge of £2.80 during the day (it‘s free between midnight and 7am) — and petrol is included. You pay a £100 deposit when you join and should get it back when you leave.
Apart from the financial benefits, there are also obvious advantages in terms of decreasing environmental impact and congestion.
You won't even have another key to lose, because ingeniously, all the cars are fitted with SIM cards which receive a message when you‘re booked. All you have to do is flash your Osmart Card and away you go. Cars are located all over the city. including the Shore, Marchmont, the Old Town and Portobello, with new locations being looked at all the time. Glasgow drivers keen to see a similar service in their city should phone the Car Club on 0113 234 9299, or check out the website below - the organisation is looking to expand to new areas. (Morag Bruce)
Watch this space