Meet our talented new Volunteer Blog Coordinator, Alieu Cissay!

Welcome sign on desk  c. Jenny Wicks
A cruel welcome

I recently joined Scottish Refugee Council as the new Volunteer Blog Coordinator.  I’ll be working with the Policy and Communications team, blogging on events as well as assisting with the production and updating of new blogs that highlight the work of Scottish Refugee Council and our endeavour to help refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland. Incidentally I’m also the one glowing with pride to be working with this organisation, especially because I have gone through the complex asylum process.

Having been a one-time service user of the organisation, and a volunteer for a week, I’ve seen first-hand the huge difference Scottish Refugee Council makes in the lives of the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who walk through our door every year. 

Raising awareness, influencing policy and improving the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland

Before escaping to the UK, I was a senior journalist and Parliamentary reporter in The Gambia; so I am proud to be part of the Policy and communication team who are at the forefront of raising awareness about refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland and push for fair and accurate reporting on asylum and refugees in the main stream media in Scotland.

Unlike the UK, unfortunately not all countries allow freedom of speech

In my country, The Gambia, journalists do not have the same freedoms as journalists in the UK.  They are detained and unlawfully arrested if they are suspected of passing information to international news organisations, or if they write stories that are unfavourable to the authorities.  Newspapers and radio stations have been closed down without court order and many writers have been driven into exile.

The biggest challenge for us is the systematic attack on media and journalists. Draconian media laws have lead to self censorship. Journalists fear reprisals; I believe freedom of expression is fundamental human rights for every person on this planet but these rights have been curtailed in many parts of the world - and many are forced to flee as a result of persecution for their beliefs.

Many seeking sanctuary flee from countries where basic human rights are denied

While citizens in this country might take these basic rights for granted it’s important to emphasise that many people who come here to seek sanctuary flee from countries where basic fundamental human rights have been denied, including the right to free speech and the rights to freedom of assembly.

Via our blogs, I look forward to getting to know you over the coming months, providing insight into asylum issues and highlighting what’s happening at Scottish Refugee Council.

Raising awareness of silenced voices with Amnesty International

This Wednesday, 28 September,  I’ll be going to Edinburgh to take part in an event about exiled writers as part of the Take One Action Film Festival’s Reporting International Development day.

I will participate in a workshop organised by Amnesty International in Scotland around the theme of  ‘Raising Awareness of and Supporting Silenced Voices'. The event at the Edinburgh College of Art will bring together NGOs, journalists, development workers, filmmakers and students.

You can come along too – just take a look at the Take One Action website  for more details.

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