Scotland puts the kettle on to share a cuppa with refugees

Cup of tea with a refugee 2016
Khosrow Zanganeh who came to Scotland from Iran, Selina Hales of Refuweegee and Gary Christie of Scottish Refugee Council

Scottish Refugee Council launches its Cup of Tea with a Refugee campaign today (Thursday October 27) to encourage Scots to take time out to share experiences and stories with refugees making their homes in Scotland.

The charity believes that it's time, amidst all the horror stories about the experiences of refugees and hostile coverage from some of the media, for a positive conversation where we listen to each other and find out what we have in common.

Scottish Refugee Council realised that a common bond worldwide is the drinking of tea. People around the world take time to relax with a brew and chat with family, friends or neighbours.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy for Scottish Refugee Council said:

“The Cup of Tea with a Refugee campaign highlights the fact that refugees are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. In all the everyday things, refugees are just like us. They are our friends, neighbours and colleagues.

“They have hopes, dreams and stories to tell like all of us. We hope that people across Scotland will get the kettle on and join in this campaign to get to know each other better.”

Khosrow Zanganeh from Iran arrived in Glasgow about five years ago and now works as an interpreter. He became involved in the planning for the Cup of Tea with a Refugee campaign earlier this year and says that wherever you are in the world, tea is associated with welcome and warmth.

He said:

“Tea is comforting and homely and it’s that kind of environment that we are trying to create with this campaign.

“Refugees have often had to go through some very hard experiences. But we are not victims, we are survivors, and we are all tired of hard times and bad news. This campaign looks at the positive side of things, at creating a warm space where people can engage and get to know each other better. To bring together old Scots and new, all as one.”

Scots can read stories from some of the refugees now living in Scotland at www.cupofteawitharefugee.com. The site is also full of information about how to organise a Cup of Tea with a Refugee event including topics for discussion, tea recipes, activity ideas and practical tips for running a successful gathering.

The campaign coincides with the publication of a survey commissioned by Scottish Refugee Council to gauge public opinion about the 20,000 refugees currently in Scotland. The research, conducted by Progressive Scottish Opinion, showed that 56% of Scots polled agreed with the statement: “Refugees are ordinary people just like us, we’re all the same really”. Only 17% disagreed with this statement.

The same number (56%) stated that they were “not very concerned or not at all concerned” about the number of refugees in Scotland but a significant minority (38%) stated that they were “fairly or very concerned” underlining the need for the campaign.

Showing a positive shift in public attitudes amongst the younger generation, 64% of young people between 18 and 25 years of age said that they were “not very” or “not at all” concerned about the number of refugees in Scotland.