Adjusting to life in a new country is hard, especially for refugee families fleeing war and persecution. The global pandemic is making things even more difficult. Our former Families Activities Coordinator, Monika Michon, shines the spotlight on some of the activities we offer to help newly arrived parents and children feel at home in Scotland.
Many of the parents we work with struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation at the best of times. Lockdowns and Covid restrictions are making it even more difficult for them.
When the community centres and libraries shut, they’re completely alone with no family or social support system. They aren’t able to buy toys or books for their children, and they can’t put on Netflix or YouTube to keep the kids entertained.
We got so much support from partner organisations who were able to delivered food and clothing to some of the most vulnerable families. There were donations of second-hand books and games to help keep children busy while they were stuck inside.
At the start of the first lockdown, our main priority became supporting families to get internet access and digital devices, like laptops and mobiles. We’d check in with them and keep in touch over the phone to make sure they were alright and that they understood what was going on.
By mid-summer lots of families were connected to the internet and we were able to start delivering some activities over Zoom. The Family Choir is now meeting online. We also restarted our women’s group. It gives mums their own space and is a chance for them to meet people who are in the same situation, make friends and talk about how they’re coping with lockdown. We partnered with Parents Network Scotland to offer an eight-week wellbeing and parenting course for women online.
In February and March, we held art classes for kids with volunteers from Glasgow School of Art. We delivered the materials and the children did pot making, landscape painting, potato printing, paper weaving and made paper lanterns. The kids are so creative and talented. It is amazing what you can do with limited materials.
Zoom can never fully replace getting together in person. Online activities aren’t suitable for everyone, especially very young children. But on the other hand, with a Zoom event, you don’t need to worry about the cost of travel. Single mums don’t have to bring four or five young children all the way across Glasgow. If you can get on the internet, you can take part.