Welcome Tent hits the streets of Glasgow

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Media volunteer Sorcha headed to Buchanan Street for the first Welcome Tent of this year’s Refugee Festival Scotland on Friday 5 June.

After a rainy start to the day the skies cleared and the tent was joined by a series of drop-in workshops from local creatives. The first to arrive was two designers from the jewellery project O-Pin, which enables accessible jewellery making opportunities in Glasgow. They held paper jewellery workshop teaching people how to make intricate paper badges using none other than this year’s festival brochure for colourful inspiration.

Scottish Government Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf, made an appearance on the day to greet the team and check out the activities at the tent.

He said, “I think it’s great to have this much exposure in the heart of city centre and from what I can see a very good welcome.  I’m delighted to see such a great team out here doing that today.”

The team gave out brochures and information about the festival, and got the public involved in doing  quizzes about refugees, as well as getting their photos taken with the ‘I Welcome Refugees’ placard.

A member of the public who had been unaware of Refugee Festival Scotland talked to the team at the welcome tent. He said, “From what I know I think one of the problems refugees deal with is depression. I guess one of the reasons for this would be people being unable to find jobs. I feel there’s inequality in that way. It obviously does no one any favours if people are feeling unwelcome, sitting in their flats just being ignored.”

Iranian textile artist Paria Goodarzi was the next crafter to join the Welcome Tent, setting up a card printing workshop using dried flowers and leafs.

The Welcome Tent also had a theatrical presence on the day. An actress recited lines from a script about human equality. And a few of the performers from Ignite Theatre group for young adults,  who are putting on plays such as ‘Judged or be Judged’ during the festival, turned up on the day to help out.

One of the young performers from Ignite said, “I’ve spoken to a few people today, I think a lot of people are starting to get intrigued by what’s going on right now and keep coming to peek in the tent.”

Festival volunteers helping at the event were pleased by the curiosity shown by everybody who visited on the day. The volunteers were also left with a new appreciation of the challenges of attracting public participation from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets in the city centre of Glasgow.

Katie Blair, a volunteer ambassador said, “I found that it was a good experience to speak to so many different people about the events and find ones that would suit their interests.” She added,  “It was good to see so many young people, who didn’t know a lot about the process of seeking asylum, were keen to learn more about it.”

The next Welcome Tent will be on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 June, 1pm-5pm.  Join us for more craft workshops, performances, and to find out more about what’s going on at the festival!

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