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Silent Histories – Refugees in Scotland: past, present and future

In December 2015, the Arts, Humanities & Society Working Group of the Young Academy of Scotland was awarded funding to deliver a project tackling one of the key global issues, not just of our time, but of all history – the movement of peoples fleeing war, persecution, famine and other dangers.

This is a huge global issue, with social, political, economic and cultural ramifications, but the group wanted to make whatever contribution it could, however small. Inspired by the recent arrival of a small group of Syrian refugees in Scotland, the group thought about how they, and other refugees, might best be supported into their new lives in this country. As arts, humanities and social science scholars we were aware of the long history of refugees in Scotland, and so the project developed video exploring the ‘Silent History’ of refugees in Scotland, with an accompanying pack of school resources, aimed at 8-11+ year olds.

We were delighted to feature in our video Amal Azzudin, a Scottish refugee and mental health campaigner, who is originally from Somalia. In 2005 her friend and fellow Drumchapel High School pupil, Agnesa Murselaj, was removed from her home in a dawn raid by immigration authorities: 15-year-old Amal got together with six classmates to lobby for her release. The Glasgow Girls, as they came to be known, went on to lead a successful high-profile campaign against the Home Office and for an end to dawn raids. For more on Amal, who has recently been given a public award for her work, see: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/news/foundations-amal-azzudin-named-outstanding-woman-scotland

If you would like to access our Schools Pack and resources, please contact us via Dr Annie Tindley (Annie.Tindley@newcastle.ac.uk).

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Per Ola Kristensson is a SICSA Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction at the University of St Andrews. He is interested in creating intelligent interactive systems that enable people to be more creative, expressive and satisfied in their daily lives. He is also a co-founder of ShapeWriter Inc, a technology start-up that commercialised a new text entry method for touchscreen devices. He was the Director of Engineering of this company until it was acquired by Nuance in 2010.

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