Focus Groups with Syrian new Scots in Aberdeen
Today, I met for the first time with some of the Syrian families at the drop-in coffee session at one of Aberdeen's beautiful churches. The weather was very cold but the welcome was very warm! It was great to also meet with Scottish Refugee Council Coordinators and volunteers.
Ready to enter the building for our focus group session. A cold day in Aberdeen!
It was a busy and very lively morning with interesting conversations around the experiences of Syrian new Scots. I was lucky to speak to six people who had different experiences as they arrived to Aberdeen at different stages. The importance of learning English in more intensive classes was, again, highlighted, as well as the need to communicate more effectively during hospital and GP appointments. There were also housing issues and a number of cultural differences, some of which were related to day-to-day activities.
Below is one of today's focus group participants' drawing, emphasising the significance of English language.
The focus groups participants had varied working experiences and were positive about taking on volunteering opportunities on the basis of their existing skills and knowledge. There is definitely a need for the development of more community based projects. I wonder if we could start working on creating a central hub with potential local opportunities.
I am also planning to get in touch with the Central Library in Aberdeen with a view to exploring activities and events around the early years programme for the Syrian new Scots families. There is also a need to include more material in Arabic language or dual language sources and organise library membership for the families with the help of volunteers. There are a number of areas in which the public library can be established as a 'trusted' place for the Syrian new Scots in their intergration to their new environments via the development of health literacy, language and cultural integration initiatives.
I'd like to thank everyone who took part in the focus groups interviews and the Scottish Refugee Council local Coordinators for all the support today. I look forward to meeting everyone again soon!