Full Film footage and images available from Refugee Week Launch HOME Visits



Media Release: For Immediate Release

May 25, 2009

Full Film footage and images available from Refugee Week Launch HOME Visits
Fiona Hyslop, John Byrne and Emma Pollock

 “I can’t tell you how hard living with the uncertainty of seeking asylum is.  There is no word for it. How can you sleep when you think that you might be sent back the next day and shot? You can’t think past tomorrow. The only thing you can do is try to stay strong.”

These were the moving words of Matta Matabaro, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to John Bryne, the writer and artist best-known for the Slab Boys and Tutti Frutti, during a series of Home Visits between high profile Scots and refugees, which took place across Glasgow today to launch the Refugee Week Scotland 2009 programme. See www.refugeeweek.org.uk/inyourarea/scotland


Raw footage is available on request.
Edited slots available from the links below.
High-resolution images are also available on request.


Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop, singer songwriter Emma Pollock and renowned artist and writer John Byrne spent the morning meeting with inspirational refugees – and came away with a new insight into both world affairs, and Scotland’s place as a safe and welcoming new home for all who come here.

Fiona Hyslop met with 20-year-old Fuad Warsame at his the University of Strathclyde Mechanical Engineering Dept, where he spends a lot of his time. They shared some cake, which Fiona had brought along, and chatted about education, Fuad’s recent Modern Apprentice Award, football (he’s Partick Thistle, she’s Linlithgow Rose!) and why Scotland’s the place to be:

Fuad said: “Today has been very different for me. Fiona seemed like a very nice person. I am proud to be in Scotland and I want to stay here for the rest of my life. “              

Emma Pollock met with Congolese journalist Myriam Abede at her North Glasgow flat, and chatted about coming to Glasgow, their experiences of the city and its preconceptions. They’ve now pledged to keep in touch as Emma wants to find out more about the Congo, and to hear about how Myriam gets on with her forthcoming Open University course.

Emma said: “I think home is also about a culture, and what you share. Most of all home for is the freedom to exercise your rights on any level... you can watch television if you want, you can do whatever you want within these four walls.”

John Byrne met with Matta Mataboro at his flat and the pair really clicked. They discussed the terrible situation in Matta’s home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo and discussed why Glasgow has provided a place for Matta to continue community work with his organisation Africa Umoja Scotland.

John said:Scotland has a history of welcoming people to its shores – my own grandparents were Irish so it was fascinating to hear about Matta’s first perceptions of Glasgow. Today has been a really great experience.”


Full text available from Scottish Refugee Council Media and Communications Officer
Clare Harris or Karin Goodwin on 0141 223 7927, 07734 030 763


Notes to editors


1. Refugee Week Scotland, which includes over 100 programmed events, runs from June 15-21 and programmes will be available across Scotland from May 28. The annual festival is co-ordinated by the Scottish Refugee Council. See www.refugeeweek.org.uk/scotland for more details.

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

3. 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.