Vigils show Scotland's support for refugees

Boys light candles
Boys light candles at the Glasgow Sees Syria vigil to commemorate those who lost their lives on their journey to seek safety

On Saturday grassroots-organised vigils took place across the UK and Europe – thousands of people gathered to express their support for refugees and to commemorate those who have lost their lives on their journey to find safety away from the horrors of war and persecution.

In Scotland, events took place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling, Inverness, Orkney and Skye. Glasgow’s George Square was filled to bursting. All afternoon people from all walks of life came together to express solidarity and support for refugees – there was a positive, buzzing atmosphere and a real sense that people want to speak up on behalf of those in need.

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Rousing speeches from Scotland’s Europe Minister Humza Yousaf and Glasgow Girl Amal Azzudin set the tone. Our Head of Policy and Communications Gary Christie spoke too – highlighting how important it is to remember that refugees are people like us and not just numbers.

A focal point was set up in the centre of the square for people to put candles to remember the dead and signs of welcome.

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In Edinburgh, people united in front of the Scottish Parliament to express their good wishes to refugees, and a group of Syrian refugees already living in the city came along to say thanks to Scotland for offering sanctuary.

Our chief executive John Wilkes spoke to the crowd about the need for Europe to work together, and refugee speaker Debora Kayembe told the audience that it was crucial to remember that refugees came from many different countries and were all deserving of our support. She also stressed that we must remember that when the cameras disappear people are still stuck in the same situation, and spoke of her empathy for the father of Aylan Kurdi, having lost all of his immediate family.

Scottish Refugee Council stalls at both events were swamped with well-wishers offering help and support. Our Aye Welcome Refugee t-shirts proved immensely popular, with almost 1000 shirts going off on the backs of supporters to spread a positive message across Scotland.

We would like to extend our thanks to the organisers of all of the events, and to thank all of you who came to our stalls and to the events as a whole. A public movement is really building – please talk to your family and friends about the refugee crisis and do everything you can to spread the word, loud and clear, that refugees are welcome here.

If you'd like to get hold of an Aye Welcome Refugees t-shirt, you can find out more here. N.B. We are running low on some sizes.

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