Our 19 new friends are now two months into their befriending experience as part of our Glasgow Welcome project which pairs up newcomers to the city with people who know Glasgow well. The pairs meet every two weeks over a six month period to explore some of the free cultural sites the city has to offer. From Kelvingrove Park to the People’s Palace, the new friends have been exploring new sights around Glasgow and getting to know each other along the way.
The project came about from our partnership with Glasgow Clyde College, and our refugee internship scheme which offers refugees and asylum seekers a 6-9 week placement in the RST office. This is a chance for people to gain experience of UK office culture and specialise in an area that they’re looking to work in – from IT and admin to translation or community engagement.
From hosting a series of amazing interns in the office we realised that a common wish was to have more opportunities to meet locals and practice English in a casual setting. At the same time we also receive a lot of enquiries from people interested in volunteering roles which would allow them to get to know refugees and asylum seekers better. So, Glasgow Welcome was born!
As well as meeting their partner every couple of weeks, there are also regular opportunities for participants to join group trips and activities – we have so far visited the Christmas lights at George Square and headed to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum where our friends at Glasgow Museums ran a session about all the museums and galleries in Glasgow – even those of us who’ve lived in Glasgow for many years found out something new.
These group meetups give participants the chance to get to know the other people in the group, making new friends and learning about different cultures alongside having a fun day out. Plans in the pipeline for future group meetups include a visit to the Moving Image Archive at the Kelvin Hall where we’ll have a look at some of the weird and wonderful film archive of other people having fun and visiting new places in Glasgow throughout the years.
As part of the project we’re also delighted to be working with Media Co-Op to document the first ever RST Glasgow Welcome group. Video Director and Editor Vilte Vaitkute is sharing her filmmaking knowledge with 3 of the pairs, using smartphones to film and edit a series of short films which will explore Glasgow Welcome, the benefits of befriending, things you can do in Glasgow with a friend and finally a case study that will show how people have come together to share different cultures over the course of the project.
Glasgow Welcome gives everyone the opportunity to see parts of the city through new eyes, whether you’re visiting a place for the first time or the hundredth time. It’s also a chance to meet someone from a different culture and get to know them while exploring the city together. This weekend one of the Glasgow Welcome pairs is heading to the Glasgow Film Theatre to see an adaptation of a Euripides play by 13 Syrian refugee women, another pair is off to visit the Lighthouse Centre for Design and Architecture in the city centre, while another adventurous trio are off on a day trip to visit the Kelpies and the Wallace Monument.
Sound like fun? We’re currently recruiting for the second group of participants – if you’d like to get involved or are interested to hear more about the project please contact Katherine Mackinnon: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0141 363 5602 (Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays).