Edinburgh refugee family appeal to Scots to form community groups to help others from Syria
The first Syrian family brought to Scotland as refugees by a community sponsorship scheme have appealed to Scots to form other groups to fund more refugee families.
Basma Hamadeh, with her husband Azzam Al Hussain and children Fatima, Hoda, Aisha and Abbas, moved to Edinburgh two years ago, after being selected by the Home Office to benefit from the community sponsorship scheme – the first of its kind in Scotland
Around nine Scottish sponsorship groups are working to raise funds to bring more families to live in Scotland.
The Al-Husseins said: “We're really thankful to be in Scotland. Everything is good here.
"We're grateful to the British state and everyone here who has helped us. There are so many refugees, particularly in the Arab nations, who need help. The countries with the most refugees are often poorer, which means that the refugees are living in difficult conditions.
"We’re hoping for international co-ordination so that more refugees can build new lives in safe countries like Scotland. We really encourage Scotland to keep resettling Syrian refugees because there are many people who are injured or have a disability due to the violence and they need treatment urgently.”
They added: “The most important thing for us is that our children can be educated, and thankfully they are in school here in Scotland.
"We really love this country. It’s become our second home. We hope that more families will have the opportunity that we’ve had to rebuild their lives here in Scotland.”
The family’s comments come ahead of a virtual event on June 17, hosted by Reset Communities and Refugees and Citizens UK, which hopes to inspire new groups to join the scheme.
The sponsorship programme allows small groups of ordinary people to apply to fund and host refugees from Syria as part of the UK Government’s pledge to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees.
The Al-Husseins were brought to Scotland following two-and-a-half years of work by Refugee Sponsorship Edinburgh, which was formed by a group of friends and acquaintances who raised thousands of pounds in funding and found and furnished a flat for the family – the first to settle in Scotland under the Home Office’s community refugee sponsorship programme.
Dr Kate Brown, co-director of Reset, said: “We’re so excited to see Community Sponsorship gaining momentum across Scotland – a country with such a proud tradition of welcoming refugees.
"From big cities like Edinburgh to small villages in Renfrewshire, there are now nine Community Sponsorship groups working on their applications across the country so that they can welcome refugee families to their neighbourhoods.
“Some are groups of friends and neighbours. Some are people who live in the same community, but who had never met each other before. And some are motivated by shared faith or shared beliefs.”
She added: “What’s been amazing is that nearly all of these groups have come together over the pandemic.
"They’ve hosted meetings via Zoom, used social media to connect with more people in their communities, and even run fundraising events online.
"We were really worried that the virus might make people less willing to welcome those fleeing war and persecution, but Scotland showed that our worries were totally unfounded. Instead it seems to have unlocked even more compassion.”