A Scottish Government funded refugee charity is urging the people of Scotland to befriend refugees coming to the country by having a cup of tea with them. The charity hopes that in doing so, Scots will realise that refugees are “ordinary people.”
The Scottish Refugee Council, which receives nearly half of its running costs from the Scottish Government yesterday launched Cup of Tea with a Refugee, it says after realising that “a common bond worldwide is the drinking of tea.”
It hopes with the campaign to counter what it terms “hostile coverage” from the media, encouraging Scots to see refugees as people with common shared experiences.
“The campaign itself should allow people to get to know one another as people, rather than labels,” the charity said.
Head of policy Gary Christie 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.”
Interpreter Khosrow Zanganeh, who arrived in Glasgow from Iran five years ago and has been involved with setting up the campaign added that tea is associated worldwide with warmth and welcome.
He said: “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.”
According to the Council’s most recent (2014/2015) financial statement, the organisation was handed a total of £1,129,000, including a Scottish Government Strategic Grant of £550,000, up from £973,000 the previous year.
In addition, the UK Border Agency handed the Council £118,000, meaning that total government funding comprised more than half of its total income for the year of £2,451,000.
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, found that 56 percent of Scots polled agreed with the statement: “Refugees are ordinary people just like us, we’re all the same really”. Only 17 percent disagreed.
56 percent further stated that they were “not very concerned or not at all concerned” about the number of refugees in Scotland, against 38 percent who agreed that they were “fairly or very concerned”, a figure which the Council says “[underlies] the need for the campaign.”
However, younger people were less likely to be concerned about the arrival of migrants to Scotland: 64 percent 18 – 25 year olds said that they were “not very” or “not at all” concerned about the number of refugees in Scotland.
In February a 41-year-old man from the Scottish Isle of Bute was arrested after criticising a policy placing 1,000 Syrian migrants on the tiny island, which has a local population of just 6,498.