The Welcoming Project
Edinburgh Napier University and a charity that provides support for refugees and migrants have worked together to use photography to help newcomers settle in the city.
Sam Finch, Daniella Faccenda and Kirsty McLachlan, all final year students on our BA (Hons) Photography course, have been working with city-based The Welcoming as part of a creative project to support a group of 10 participants to capture their first experiences of living in Edinburgh.
The students worked with individuals receiving support from the charity to develop their photography skills by exploring the city and surrounding area to capture images of various landmarks including, The Royal Botanic Gardens, The Scottish Parliament and Arthur’s Seat.
The project aimed to help those involved develop their technical photograhy skills and learn more about the city. For Sam, Daniella and Kirsty, it was an opportunity to gain teaching and project management experience whilst contributing to a valuable social project.
The participants, coming from a wide range of countries including Sudan, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Spain were encouraged to use what they had captured to help them convey what moving to the city had meant to them and to share personal stories of being new to both the city and Scotland as a whole.
Discussions on culture shock, the language barrier, interactions with people and even the weather were all stimulated through the project, helping individuals form new friendships alongside finding common ground in their experiences.
Lindsay Morgan, Placement Coordinator for Edinburgh Napier’s, School of Arts and Creative Industries commented: “The project was created as an opportunity for community engagement and a chance for our students to gain real pedagogical and project management experience. Language barriers and social isolation are common amongst refugees and migrants and by creating a visual record, we hoped to transcend these barriers.
“Over the past few years, our photography programme has organised several volunteer projects for students and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to work on another great project with a local charity that carries out so much fantastic work within our city. The benefits really have been felt by all those involved.”
The Welcoming supports refugees and migrants in Edinburgh, with over 1,000 people from 60 different nationalities benefitting from its range of classes, activities and workshops each year. Its aim is to help Scotland benefit from the diversity, experiences and talents that its participants bring.
Elaine Mowat, deputy director of The Welcoming, said: “The project has been an amazing opportunity for our participants to learn new skills, explore the city from new perspectives and benefit from the expertise and enthusiasm of the Edinburgh Napier students. This is exactly the kind of experience that helps newcomers feel welcome and included, and to see Edinburgh as a place where they can succeed in building an exciting new life. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the University and really appreciate all the support that its School of Arts & Creative Industries has provided.”