Young Yasher Kamal goes ‘home’ to Celtic Park in the latest HOME Visit

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For immediate release

28 July 2009

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Young Yasher Kamal goes ‘home’ to Celtic Park in the latest HOME Visit staged by Scottish Refugee Council

 

Twelve-year-old Yasher Kamal and Celtic striker Giorgios Samaras are the latest figures to discuss what ‘HOME’ means to them as part of Scottish Refugee Council’s HOME project.

 

Talented young footballer Yasher, whose family came to Scotland from Iraqi Kurdistan as refugees fleeing violence during Saddam Hussein’s regime, met with the Hoops star earlier this week at Celtic’s home ground, Parkhead.

 

Yasher has been a fan of Celtic since the age of five. The pair swapped football tips and had a kickabout on the Parkhead turf, and Yasher received a personalised strip.

 

Samaras said: “Scotland has been a really welcoming place for me, and I love it here. I’m happy to support Scottish Refugee Council’s HOME project and it was great to see young Yasher have a kick-about at Celtic’s home turf.”

 

Yasher said: “I could imagine playing here one day. I felt good because I’ve never played with a professional footballer before – and someone that plays for my favourite team is even better. Samaras is my favourite player!”

 

The visit follows three high-profile HOME Visits staged earlier this year to launch Refugee Week, with politician Fiona Hyslop, musician Emma Pollock and artist and writer John Byrne visiting inspiration refugees from different backgrounds. 

 

The HOME project takes place during the Year of Homecoming, a celebration marking the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth. The visits, co-ordinated by the Scottish Refugee Council, aim to remind people to think not only of Scots who have made new homes in countries across the world, but also of those forced to flee conflict and persecution in their country of origin and seek a new home in Scotland.

 

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “In this Year of Homecoming we are all reminded what it is to feel at home in our country, and of the generations of people who have come and gone from Scotland’s shores. We want to remind Scots of the journeys refugees have taken to get here; fleeing their previous homes in fear of persecution and danger, and trying to build a new life and safe home here in Scotland.

 

“We know that those seeking sanctuary in our country have a lot to contend with; recent stories around destitution and detention remind us of this. However, we hear time and time again from refugees we work with that the people of Scotland have provided welcome, assistance and friendship at a highly traumatic time of their lives.

 

“We’re restating the importance of a place you can call home. We would urge Scots to continue to welcome those who have sought sanctuary in our nation.”

 

Peter Lawwell, Chief Executive of Celtic Football Club, said: “As a Club open to all since its formation in 1888, Celtic strives at all times to promote the benefits of diversity, and aims to promote tolerance and respect for others.   

 

“The Club was formed principally to assist an Irish immigrant community integrate into the East End of Glasgow but since its formation has ensured a rich community and charitable ethos which welcomes all to be part of the Celtic family. The Club’s mission mirrors the objectives and important messages of Scottish Refugee Council's HOME project." 

 

“We were delighted to welcome Yasher to Celtic Park and hope that he enjoyed his time as our guest. The Club will continue to ensure that it is open to all and welcomes people of all backgrounds.”

 

 

Ends

 

Notes to editors

 

1.HOME Visits is a Homecoming Scotland partner event and is funded by the Big Lottery.

 

4. Recent research shows that many Scots still have negative perceptions of refugee and asylum seekers and a limited understanding of why they have settled in Scotland and the difficulties they face on arrival.

 

Last year the Independent Asylum Commission Confirmed existing evidence that there was a ‘grave misunderstanding’ in the public mind about the term ‘asylum’ and a need to separate asylum issues from those of economic migration in order that people begin to associate asylum seekers more than they currently do with the act of fleeing persecution.

 

A 2006 report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR, Lewis), pointed to a greater ‘tolerance’ towards asylum seekers in Scotland than in England and Wales, however, there remained a great deal of hostility to asylum seekers, particularly in Glasgow, where the vast majority of Scottish asylum seekers live.