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Ideas for working with asylum seekers,
refugees, the media and communities.
Stewart Maxwell
Scotland has a proud tradition of welcoming The Scottish Government welcomes the publi-
refugees. No one chooses to be a refugee and it cation of the Forward Together guide. The work
is therefore important that accurate information of Oxfam and the many partners who have been
is put into the public consciousness. involved and the activities and ideas generated
in this guide will be a valuable resource here in
We know that refugees can and do make a Scotland and across the UK.
positive contribution to Scottish society. To
promote understanding and empathy it is vital Stewart Maxwell MSP
that we ensure that established communities are Minister for Communities and Sport
aware of the issues facing asylum seekers and

We are fortunate that attitudes to asylum seekers

and refugees as well as the media coverage of
these issues in Scotland have been generally
more positive than some other areas of the UK.
However there is still work to be done in build-
ing understanding between communities and
this is an important and ongoing priority.

Partnerships between organisations, across

sectors, and with the media are important to
support understanding in communities. The
Asylum Positive Images Project and Network
have over the past number of years done this in
a proactive and positive way as demonstrated by
this piece of work.

Asylum Positive Images Project 6

& Network

Working with the Media 8

Getting Voices Heard 9

Creating a Guide for Journalists 11
Talking to the Media 12
Awarding Good Journalism 13
Catching Them Young 15
Guidance on Asylum & Refugee Reporting 16

Working with Refugee Communities 18

Telling Stories - Talking to the Public 19

Telling Stories - Talking to Policy Makers 21
Participatory Filmmaking 22
Telling Stories - ECRE Refugee Stories - Cleos Story 24
New Voices 24

Working in Communities 26

Refugee Community Organisations 27

Storytelling & Dramas 28
Sharing Cultures & Sports 28
Poetry 30
Refugee Stories - Working in Schools 32
Refugee Week 32
Asylum Positive
Images Project
& Network
Who? What? Where? Why? How?
Asylum Positive Images Media and presentation training for asylum
seekers and refugees to support them to
Project & Network engage with the media

Oxfam in partnership with a range of organisa- Organising work with community outreach
tions and building on experience started the activities including drama projects and
Asylum Positive Images project in Scotland in work with Scottish literary organisations,
2003 . One of the main activities is facilitating a specifically the Scottish Poetry Library, that
Network made up of around 20 organisations brought together asylum seeking and
with an interest in asylum issues in Scotland Scottish poets to produce creative materials
made up of a wide range of groups including that were published for wide public
statutory services (e.g. Local Authority, Scottish dissemination, including in schools, public
Government, police), voluntary organisations spaces and in the media
(e.g. Amnesty International, Scottish Refugee
Members of the Network are actively
Council), media organisations (e.g. National
involved in a range of community activities
Union of Journalists, university media depart-
including in schools, sports and arts
ments) and community based refugee organisa-
activities and active participants in Refugee
Week every year.
The Asylum Positive Images Project also
After four years of facilitating the Network,
undertakes a range of activities, much of which
we have developed a better understanding of
is targeted at the Scottish media to influence
what and who influences public perceptions
the content and portrayal of asylum in the
and hope to continue to influence a more
media as well as to work to influence public
balanced, informed and positive public
attitudes towards asylum positively. This
debate and climate around asylum issues.

Annual Refugee Week Scottish Media Many of the activities and initiatives carried
Awards out may be adapted to influence the debate on
asylum and refugee issues. In addition, they
A guide for journalists (Fair Play), sponsored
may be of use in influencing the wider debate
by the National Union of Journalists
on migration and immigration.
University and college seminars and
workshops, targeted at media students

Asylum Positive Images Project & Network 7

with the Media
This section highlights activities around
working with the media and asylum issues.
Journalists have responded to the level of
Getting Voices Heard
political and public interest in the area of
asylum, and the dispersal of asylum seek- Working Together with the
ers across the UK. This response has Media
occurred in different ways but there has
been a degree of negativity and misreport- The involvement of exiled journalists, National
ing that caused challenges and concern and Union of Journalists members and interested
a need for activities to address this. This lecturers from journalism/media departments
was done in many cities across the UK in is key to any network working on media
different ways (see RAM Report - portrayal of asylum seekers and refugees.
The UK Exiled Journalists Network
In working with the media it is important to ( and NUJ have
involve media professionals including worked closely together and been at the fore-
NUJ, exiled journalists, press officers, front of campaigning for supporting asylum
media lecturers as well as knowing what is issues and changes in reporting standards.
being reported. Monitoring the media from The Exiled Journalists Network members, as
time to time and not just anecdotally is journalists themselves, can help with media
useful (monitoring the media was done by training for refugees and can make links into
the project Asylum and the Media in Scot- the media industry as fellow journalists.
land 2006 -
Having media academics involved helps them
The Project, building on the experience of understand grassroots issues and helped the
network members, implemented a number Network understand wider issues around
of initiatives in this area recognising the media and representation. This involvement
importance and influence that journalists can also be brokered through offering and
have as well as attempting to support them organising talks or seminars on campuses or
reporting asylum. aimed at students (see Catching Them Young).

Working with the Media 9

Creating a Guide for The Fair Play Guide (2007) includes informa-
tion on:
Asylum Process & Support
Fair Play Journalists Guide
Asylum in Scotland
Journalists increasingly need to be generalists, Asylum Legislation
provising accurate and timely information on a
Whos Who in the Asylum Process and
wide range of subjects. To assist and improve
the quality of reporting on asylum the Network
has published three editions of the Fair Play Link:
Journalists Guide in partnership with the
National Union of Journalists, Amnesty Interna-
The Network was responsible, along with some
tional, Scottish Refugee Council and Oxfam.
other partners, for producing the Fair Play guide
for journalists. Can I say that it was a very
Accurate and balanced reporting on asylum
valuable resource and not just to journalists
within the media is crucial to challenging
because it also informed a vast part of the work
racism and harassment, informing public
that we the police did, and I know that other
perceptions of asylum and helping people
people who had responsibility for providing
seeking asylum to safely rebuild their lives
services to asylum seekers and refugees also
and settle here.
took a lot out of that resource.
The Fair Play Guide aims to improve the
Alex MacDonald
quality of asylum debate in the UK by provid-
Superintendent, Strathclyde Police
ing journalists in Scotland with essential
information to enable high standards of
reporting. While specific to Scotland the guide
is useful for journalists across the UK.

Working with the Media 11

Talking to the Media Many organisations, including the exiled
journalists networks and others, have and
Media/Presentation Training continue to provide media training to refugee
community and support organisations across
Working with the media on refugee issues is the UK (EJN, MediaWise, The Media Trust).
first and foremost about having asylum seekers
In Wales Lets Talk to the Media Guide was
and refugees represented and quoted in the
produced and is a good in-depth resource on
this work with refugees:

Media training to build the capacity of asylum Link:

seekers and refugees to understand the media
in the UK and speak publicly to the media or to
the public is an important activity.

There are many refugees and exiled journalists

who are quite happy and capable to speak
publicly but in working with the media there is
always a demand for new people and different
stories. This needs to be done sensitively and
with full understanding of possible conse-
quences, as for some refugees public speaking
is not possible due to possible implications
back home.

Through the Project, media training has

supported individuals to present their own
story as well as to Refugee Community Organi-
sation (RCO) leaders representing their
organisations. It is important to include work-
ing journalists, exiled journalists and press
officers in conducting the training due to their
specialist skills.

12 Working with the Media

Awarding Good
Refugee Week Scottish
Media Awards
Rewarding journalists for exceptional and
accurate reporting is important and has
become a part of Refugee Week in Scotland.
Too often we are quick to criticise, however
acknowledging good reporting on a compli-
cated issue has proven to be a powerful

These awards have evolved to include catego-

ries for national print, local print, broadcast
and photography, judged by panels of exiled the Media Awards stand out I suppose
journalists and refugees. Nominations are because initially I thought the reporting on
accepted from community members and asylum seekers is so awful, whos going to get
journalists. The event and awards have been an award? But in actual fact, now that Ive seen
sponsored by a number of organisations it happen I think thats a positive thing and it
including the NUJ. Having a social event for presents the issue in a positive light and I think
the Awards has proven to be a valuable thats very important. It says you know you
networking opportunity bringing refugees, should be rewarded and you should be recog-
journalists and groups together. nised for good reporting on this issue.

Link: Dawn Corbett

Head of Corporate Policy, Glasgow City Council

Working with the Media 13

Catching Them Young
Journalism Student Talks and
Journalism and media students are the journal-
ists of tomorrow. They hold many of the same
beliefs and attitudes around asylum issues as
the general public. Brokering opportunities for
them to discuss asylum reporting and issues
with actual refugees and asylum seekers is
important but also with journalism

With Amnesty International the Network

offered lectures on Ethics in Reporting with
asylum as the focus/case study to One of the most successful things of the
media/journalism courses. These lectures Network was the work they did with the student
included short presentations from a refugee, a journalists I think its very important work to
media professional (press officer, lecturer) and be done where theyre going to be the journal-
a refugee support organisation on the issue ists and the reporters and the broadcasters of
from their perspective, a myth-busting pub the future so I think the work theyre doing in
style quiz, short DVDs and discussion. the universities with student journalists to raise
the issues and encourage them to report on
these issues is very important.

Aideen McLaughlin
Media and Communications Officer,
Scottish Refugee Council

Working with the Media 15

Guidance on Asylum I think that the Network has achieved several
things, but I think a couple of things deserve
& Refugee Reporting special emphasis. I think the first one is the
change in the nominative of the PCC which is
There are a number of guidelines that not only the result of the Network but of a series
promote the accurate and unbiased reporting of grass roots movements and MPs and all the
of asylum and refugee issues in the media. leaders who pressured the PCC, the Press
These have been established by journalists Complaints Commission, to make these
themselves in consultation with refugees and changes.
others as per the National Union of Journalists
(NUJ) Guidelines, and also through lobbying Dr. Jairo Lugo
and recognition of need in this area as per the Journalism Lecturer, University of Stirling
PCC (Press Complaints Commission)
Guidance on asylum reporting.

These include topic-specific guidance notes,

as well as more general codes of conduct
and practice that contain relevant clauses on
principles such as accuracy and discrimina-
tion. Research and guidelines have been
compiled by the Information Centre about
Asylum and Refugees in the UK (ICAR).


Additionally complaints of misreporting can

and should be taken up with the Press
Complaints Commission ( that
also has specific guidance on asylum terminol-
ogy and an on-line complaints form. The PCC
also welcomes comments, submissions and
meetings about concerns on asylum reporting.

16 Working with the Media

with Refugee
This section highlights Telling refugee
stories, and gives ideas on working with
people seeking asylum to get their issues
and ideas across.
Any initiative working on a particular issue
Telling Stories
that affects a particular group should
ensure the participation of that group. This Talking to the Public
has been behind the ethos of the work of
Oxfam, the Network and refugee support An asylum seeker or refugee speaking can be
organisations in the UK. We are privileged very powerful and depending on the audience
to have the opportunity to work with many and topics, can be supported in different ways.
people seeking asylum and refugees who One of the activities the Project carried out was
are highly motivated, leaders and commu- to incorporate presentation training into the
nity activists that are keen to improve the media training to build the confidence of those
public image of asylum seekers. There are interested in making presentations. Many oppor-
often capacity building support activities tunities may present themselves to speak about
around public speaking and also a need to refugee issues publicly from schools and univer-
ensure activities are done sensitively. sities, conferences, churches to new communica-
Decisions need to be taken given limited tions web-sites like YouTube and Facebook.
resources as to what types of activities to These types of activities are ideal for influencing
be involved with, how and with whom. people positively as this may be the first time
many people will hear of these issues first-hand.
I remember very well the Gathering/Civicus
Karibu, a refugee womens organisation, is one of
World Assembly where we had people come to
the most successful members of the Network in
listen to women and young people speaking for
terms of speaking at schools, universities,
themselves. I think that was very important to us
churches, conferences and Parliament
because we had an opportunity to tell our story
(Westminster AND Holyrood!). At events the
to the people who were at the Civicus World
Network tried to ensure refugee voices were
present alongside support organisations,
Mrs Mushaka academics, media professionals and others
Refugee leader from Karibu (Refugee Commu- depending on the event. Many other initiatives
nity Organisation) like this have been done across the UK including
Refugee Actions Refugee Awareness Project
( which has devel-
oped numerous resources.

Working with Refugee Communities 19

Telling Stories
Talking to Policy Makers
Opportunities may often present themselves
or be facilitated with asylum seekers and
refugees to speak publicly to policy makers in
conferences and or events.

International days such as International

Womens Day or Human Rights Day provide
opportunities to have a public discussion and
or debate together with events including
refugees/asylum seekers.

Refugee members of the Network spoke at

both the Scottish and UK parliaments at events giving asylum seekers a voice, giving them a
such as the hearings for the Joint Committee chance to take media training to enhance their
on Human Rights enquiry into the treatment of public speaking, their advocacy they are the
asylum seekers at Westminster. best people to tell their own stories. They are the
best people to say this is what is wrong with the
system, this is what we want. Its all too easy to let
other people speak for asylum seekers and one
of the things that I think possibly the Network
has really helped lots of us realise is that maybe
weve got to say less and let the asylum seekers
say more about what they want and what they
need because they are more than capable of
doing it.

Maggie Lennon
Director, Bridges Programme

Working with Refugee Communities 21

Participatory Together they created a DVD to promote the
issues facing young asylum seekers on leaving
Filmmaking school, and explain the importance of career

media co-op: Primary & planning to help identify skills and opportuni-
ties and take. The DVD has been used in pres-
Transitions DVDs entations and lobbying.

Kids welcome asylum-seekers. When will

grown-ups catch up?

The short video PRIMARY was an innovative

production by the Network partner media
co-op, a non-profit co-operative of professional
film makers, that trained young asylum-
seekers to use video cameras to film and
interview their own class-mates. Together they
created a profound and inspiring piece of film.
The film was intentionally kept short (90
seconds) and subtitled so that it could be used
in a variety of settings, including YouTube, and
shown in public spaces such as bus and train
stations, shopping malls and in presentations.

Link: I particularly like the Primary DVD I have to say,

Ive seen it used at a number of different events
Another participatory film project done by and whilst you cant say that its there and then its
asylum seeker youth as part of the Careers changed peoples attitude, its always a talking
Scotland Transition Project for Young Asylum point, it always has an impact because its just
Seekers, in partnership with the Glasgow young people talking in a very honest way
Asylum Seeker Support Project, worked with without an agenda about asylum seekers...
young asylum seekers in schools to raise their
profile with colleges, universities and Dawn Corbett
organisations offering volunteer placements. Head of Corporate Policy, Glasgow City Council

22 Working with Refugee Communities

Telling Stories
ECRE Refugee Stories -
Cleos Story
Many of the partners involved in the Network
are also members of the European Council for
Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) a pan-European
network of refugee-assisting non-
governmental organisations. One of the New Voices
projects supported through Oxfam was the
Refugee Stories Project. The Refugee Stories Refugee Newspaper
Project recorded the experiences of 120 men
and women seeking protection in the EU, The British Red Cross Refugee and International
resulting in a selection of powerful frank Tracing Service in Glasgow develop, produce
accounts of what it means to be an asylum and distribute a free quarterly newspaper
seeker or refugee in Europe today. highlighting asylum and refugee issues.

One of those stories collected is the story of New Voices was created to offer Red Cross
Cleo an asylum seeker in Scotland. Having a volunteers and exiled journalists an opportunity
Scottish story in this collection was an impor- to work together to create a newspaper that can
tant tool as it provided a resource for students support the sharing of information amongst
in schools, colleges and universities. Cleos refugees, asylum seekers and those who work
story and the many refugees and asylum with them in Scotland. The newspaper promotes
seekers with similar experiences across the services offered by organisations working
Europe can be drawn on as examples for with refugees in Scotland, highlights key issues
research and media work as well as for activi- concerning asylum seekers and refugees and
ties in schools. promotes positive images of refugees that
challenge stereotypes and increase public
awareness. The project provides asylum seekers
and refugees who want to improve their writing
skills with access to journalism training and

24 Working with Refugee Communities

refugee matters in scotland free 8

Ishmael Beah Assign

Venture Scotland Access to Education
Working in
This section highlights working together
with asylum seeking and host communities
through drama, creative writing, culture
and sports.
Since 2000 asylum seekers and refugees
have been disbursed across the UK into
Refugee Community
many neighbourhoods, communities and Organisations
cities that had little experience of asylum
Refugee Community Organisations organise
issues previously. In many areas this
and perform countless activities to assist with
process faced many challenges but over
integrating different communities. Cultural,
time communities are learning about each
food and dance activities as well as sports and
other through a variety of activities and
in addition to many of the other activities in
initiatives. In challenging and changing
this booklet bring refugee and Scottish com-
attitudes about people and prejudice often
munities together and help build bridges and
the strongest way to do this is through some
sort of meaningful contact between those
peoples and communities. Sometimes these activities are as already
mentioned, participating in a talk or discus-
A good resource is the Information Centre
sion at a church or a school. Sometimes this
about Asylum and Refugees in the UK
can be around an event like International
(ICAR) website. Also their publication
Womens Day and bringing in refugee issues.
Understanding the Stranger: Building
For many community groups a cultural event
bridges community handbook profiled 21
allows the new refugee community to
initiatives across the UK that aimed to
celebrate and show something of their culture
mediate tensions and build bridges
to their new neighbours and home. This often
between local host communities and
involves food, song and dance not so very
asylum seekers and refugees.
different to the main elements in a traditional
Link: Scottish Ceilidh!

Examples of some of the many activities

from the Asylum Positive Images Project
and Network partners in Scotland follow.

Working in Communities 27
Storytelling & Dramas Sharing Cultures
& Sports
The Village Storytelling Centre is a community
-based programme that helps people explore One of the first things that happen naturally
their culture through traditional story telling. when new communities come together is the
The Centre runs creative writing courses for sharing of cultures. Whether through sharing
asylum seekers and other local people and has food with neighbours, discussing children or
published a number of books and activities kicking the footie around peoples lives and
around stories by and with refugees and Scots. cultures are shared. As already mentioned
They were also instrumental in involving refugee groups themselves often carry out such
participants in further activities like supporting activities but many other support organisations
refugees in storytelling in schools, the drama also get involved to welcome newcomers into
The Flats and a village choir. their neighbourhoods, communities, towns and
Link: cities (see Refugee Week).

Drama is a powerful tool for getting messages

across. Building on the experiences of asylum Police & Communities
seekers and Scots with the Village Storytelling
Centre, Confab (a community based theatre There are many allies and supporters in build-
company) facilitated the development of a play ing bridges in communities and across the UK
called The Flats. in many cities the police have been one that is
keen to support asylum seeker and refugee
The Flats told the experience of asylum seekers integration in the community.
and Scots coming to know each other within the
community of a high-rise flat in Glasgow and In Glasgow, Strathclyde Police has been
was shown in many of the communities where supportive of the Network since its inception
these groups were learning about each other. and has supported community engagement
activities that have pro-actively included
Other theatre companies, such as The Birds of asylum seekers and refugees within the com-
Paradise, have taken asylum themes to commu- munity. One such project is Operation Reclaim,
nities across Scotland through their play Mouth which commenced in 2004, and involves
of Silence. refugees, asylum seekers and Scots in

28 Working in Communities
restoring the leisure areas of North Glasgow to seekers and refugees learn about poetry
its communities. Aimed at young people, the together. At the same time they shared stories
project provides a wide range of professionally about everyday life and wrote about their
coached sports & arts activities at six venues, experiences. Poems were displayed on the
and is overseen by a dedicated Police pres- buses in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as
ence. Activities range from football, using a produced as postcards and into a resource for
mobile football pitch, to cricket & basketball, schools. The poems are thought-provoking,
to drama and dance, promoting community poignant and amusing reflections on Scottish
contact, safety and engagement. life, and remind us that asylum is a basic
human right (see
Also as supporters of Refugee Week in Scot-
land the police have supported refugee I hadnt written a poem since I was at school
community events during the week and a long time ago! I wasnt sure that Id be any
throughout the year including cultural, sports good at writing, but the workshops helped and
and drama activities. encouraged me to put my thoughts and ideas
into words.

Poetry Sifiso Moyo

Refugee from Zimbabwe
Poetry is a form of expression that is used in
many cultures and can be used in different
The workshops were really inspiring for me as
ways to promote ideas including in learning
a teacher, seeing Scots and refugees learning
and development as well as in public spaces.
from each others experiences was wonderful.
The Scottish Poetry Library has a Subway
When people are introduced to each other as
Stanza initiative on the Glasgow Underground
human beings rather than statistics, real change
in which a poem by a Palestinian Poet was
happens and real friendships develop. Poetry is
displayed during Refugee Week.
a great medium for exploring our thoughts and
A refugee poet together with a Scottish Poet emotions. Im sure these poems will give
helped facilitate workshops supported by the passengers food for thought as well as making
Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish Arts Council them smile.
and Oxfam to encourage Scots, asylum Gerry Cambridge
Workshop Facilitator and Scottish Poet

30 Working in Communities
Refugee Stories Refugee Week
Working in Schools Refugee Week is an annual UK-wide programme
of arts,cultural and educational events that
British Red Cross volunteers take refugee iss-
celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK,
ues into the classroom with the Positive Images
and encourages a better understanding
workshop for secondary pupils which aims to
between communities.
challenge discrimination and stereotyping and
build positive attitudes to diversity. In 2007 the During Refugee Week, hundreds of activities
Wee Positive Images project adapted this take place across the UK including exhibitions,
material into an interactive session for Primary film festivals, workshops, community celebra-
5 & 6 pupils. tions, theatre and music.

The Positive Images toolkit and the Wee Positive The marketing and media work that surrounds
Images toolkit for teachers and other educators Refugee Week provides an important opportu-
are available online. The Red Cross, Oxfam and nity to highlight positive stories and influence
others through Development Education Centres public opinion.
support teachers through continuing profes-
sional development training that enables them to For more information, please see
tackle refugee, humanitarian and other interna- and
tional issues in their classrooms.

Community based organisations such as Pollok

Integration Network and Village Storytelling
Centre undertake many activities with local
schools. Oxfam and Amnesty International also
have resources to use in schools around asylum
and refugee issues.




32 Working in Communities
Acknowledgements and special thanks to members of the Network.

Amnesty International
British Red Cross
Careers Scotland
Commission for Racial Equality/Commission for Equalities & Human Rights
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
Glasgow Caledonian University
Exiled Journalists Network
Glasgow City Council
media co-op
National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Pollok Integration Network
Positive Action in Housing
Refugee Survival Trust
Scottish Government Equalities Unit
Scottish Iraqi Association
Scottish Refugee Council
Stirling University
Strathclyde Police
Strathclyde University
Student Action for Refugees (STAR)

This guide has been part funded by the ESF under the Equal Community
Initiative Programme. The contents do not necessarily reflect the opinion or
position of the European Commission or the Department of Work and Pensions.

The producers of this publication cannot accept responsibility for the acts or omissions of any of the organisations, third parties or websites mentioned in the guide, and
inclusion within this guide does not signify endorsement. The producers of this guide have made every effort to ensure that the information within is accurate.

Photography credits: Peter Iain Campbell, Gareth Harper, Chris McNulty, Chris Watt.

Oxfam 2007 - a member of Oxfam International. Registered Charity No. 202918.
Ideas for working with asylum seekers,
refugees, the media and communities.

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