About the Project

Friday, 21 April 2017

Going North...

As part of the last phase of the research project we found ourselves further up north in a beautiful small Scottish town to meet the final Syrian new Scots families.  There was a really warm welcome by both the local council support officers and the families and a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me!
There were so many fantastic ideas around supporting the Syrian families. One of the  most helpful activities for the Syrian Scots was the running of themed English language classes addressing everyday life needs beyond the class environment.  As the local council support manager explained, it wasn’t so much about nouns and verbs and pronouns but about working with the families to help them initially develop their conversational English. For example, how would they go into a shop and ask for something?  How would they approach a member of the public and ask for directions?  How would they go into the chemist and ask for a prescription or to the doctors or the bank?  It was impressive to find out that there were even mock discussions scheduled with the doctor to learn how to ask health related questions. A trip was scheduled to the local bank where people could learn to ask ‘Can I have a statement please?’ and ‘Can I know what my balance is’? in a real life environment. The local council support manager further elaborated,

“in fact to the first family I worked with the very first night when they arrived- I was leaving them and obviously they were very anxious - I had said, do you have any real anxiety?’, ‘is there anything you like to ask before I go home?'  And one of the families said, ‘Yes, when are we starting the English language classes?”  
The local public library was very accessible too and there was an early years programme that the families with young children attended. There was a real buzz about the place (unfortunately I would not be able name the location to secure the anonymity of our research participants).
There are so many other interesting findings from that visit which I’d like to share with you, not to mention the Syrian families' drawings! They were all very special and I am sharing a couple of them here. They were translated with the help of the interpreter who helped us with the research and we are very grateful for their excellent support and approach:

We are delighted that we will have the opportunity to present our research findings and drawings at two annual conferences this year, organised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). The first one will be in Dundee in Scotland (on 5-6th June): http://www.cilips.org.uk/about/annual-conference-2017/ .

The second one is taking place in Manchester (on  5-6th July):  http://cilipconference.org.uk/  Here is our abstract: http://cilipconference.org.uk/information-literacy/ .

We are also organising our own biannual conference, i3    Information, Interactions and Impact http://www.rgu.ac.uk/research/conferences/i-2017/overview/ at the Robert Gordon University and we have a paper accepted there too.  A real busy year for us but we are very keen to increase awareness and share our findings!

 We recently also presented phase 1 findings at the LILAC conference which took place in Swansea this month, organised by the Information Literacy Group who funded our research. A copy of our abstract can be found here: http://www.lilacconference.com/files/Swansea%202017/LILAC%20Full%20Programme%202017.pdf. The presentation slides are available via this link: https://www.slideshare.net/martzoukou/syrian-new-scots-phase-1-lilac-conference .

The data collection phase of the research project has now been completed and we are analysing the final results. However, this is not the end. There are many more activities to come!  One of them includes putting together examples from local Scottish public libraries who support Syrian refugees as part of Refugee Week that is taking place between 19-25 June http://refugeeweek.org.uk/. So please keep on checking this blog for new updates!

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