John's change of heart


FACT: sometimes it’s difficult to get the facts! That’s certainly been the case when it comes to information about asylum seekers and refugees. And I do believe that many minds would be changed if more people had the right information.

For this reason I was interested to speak to someone who - while not necessarily opposed to asylum seekers or refugees - was unaware of the facts. I was put in touch with John.

John works for the children’s charity Aberlour in Govan, where he supports children who are going through some very difficult situations in their lives. Working in this area of Glasgow, John found his job was increasingly bringing him into contact with some of the young people from the asylum seeker and refugee community. 

“I was ignorant, to be honest. I didn’t know the facts and I needed to get informed,” said John who admits to getting caught up in the media hype around asylum seekers and refugees.  

He recently took part in Scottish Refugee Council’s ‘New Scots’ training course, which he said “really opened his eyes”. He learned the differences between terms like asylum seeker and refugee, and about some of the reasons why people flee their country, and the myriad issues they can face in the UK, among other things.

After the training, John said the negative stereotyping of refugees in some media reporting is not dissimilar to that faced by the Scottish children that he works with on a daily basis.

“When you strip away the nationalities, all you see is a young person who needs our help and support,” said John.

“Women and children are fleeing from abuse in their own countries – the last thing they should have to do is face more abuse here. That’s not something you want to see in your own country.

"Some people say we should only help our own, but the world would be a horrible place if everyone thought like that. The minute a vulnerable child arrives in this country it shouldn’t matter where they’re from – they’re all Scotland’s children now.”

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