Co-producing a Family Day with Jasmine and Thistle Scottish and Syrian Women’s Organisation as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland
It was a windy day in June. Patches of sunlight moved quickly across the surrounding hills as the team gathered together at Peel Park in Kirkintilloch. Our co-producers, Jasmine and Thistle, Syrian and Scottish Women’s group arrived a little after set-up, supported by their close-knit team of collaborators from East Dunbartonshire Action for Refugees (EDAR). Together, we hosted a Family Day as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland – a yearly festival that highlights the huge contribution refugees make to life in Scotland.
Sana’a Al-Fourkh, co-founder of Jasmine and Thistle, is a clinical psychologist. In the violent conflict that has followed the Syrian Revolution, Sana’a family fled to Jordan where she was able to gain experience in trauma therapy by learning to treat other Syrian refugees. They were able to come to the UK in 2017.
Sana’a’s daughter, Heba Alwadi is also a founding member of Jasmine and Thistle and a student of psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University. Together, with Sana’a as the project lead and Heba as co-facilitator, they have been developing a psychosocial support programme for refugees. The programme ‘Caring and Sharing’ has worked with five communities so far. It focusses on creating a safe space, developing positive self-help and techniques of acceptance and commitment, and developing stress management and problem-solving skills for the families involved.
“We gained permission from the World Health Organisation to adapt an existing programme, taking it further and improving it”Heba Alwadi
The Family Day complemented this work, bringing families together for a public event co-directed by Sana’a, Heba and Gwen Stirling, who is also a co-founder of Jasmine and Thistle.
Blessings for Safe Travel
These images show blessings written down and etched into clay, wishing for the safe travel of refugees everywhere. They were made by young people on the day.
The activity was inspired by a stone altar set up by a Roman woman named Vibia Pacata. A translation of the inscription on the altar reads ‘…to the goddesses of the woods and of the crossroads’. The altar has been interpreted as a blessing for safe travel for Vibia and her family. Through this activity we created public dialogue around the pressing need to create safe travel routes for refugees today.
A Private Tour of Auld Kirk Museum as they hung the exhibition ‘Twenty Historical Women Who Changed the World’
We were invited on a private tour of Auld Kirk Museum whilst its doors were closed for the hanging of an exhibition of the work of Nigerian born Doncaster artist, Chinwe Russell. Museum staff laid works against walls for us to explore up-close.
The exhibition spotlighted Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale as well as some less well-known women who have had a massive impact on the contemporary world and whose legacy continues to this day. It featured Nwanyeruwa, Wangari Maathai, Stephanie Kwolek, Dr Marie Maynard Daly, Gerty Cori and many others.
The group also explored histories of the Antonine Wall through the museum displays.