Case Study: The Welcoming

Sun 5 Nov 2023

The Welcoming’s Friendship Project supports New Scots (refugees, asylum seekers and migrants) to overcome social isolation and build community in Edinburgh. Through one-to-one and group befriending activities, participants are empowered to develop new skills and share their knowledge with others.

A member of Befriending Networks, The Welcoming’s vision is of a diverse and inclusive Scotland, where everyone feels welcome and can achieve their potential.

New city, new challenges

Zahra moved from Iran to Edinburgh with her husband in 2021. Their first year in Edinburgh was tough. They were in a new city, didn’t have any friends and Zahra couldn’t find a job.

She developed physical and psychological symptoms of depression. Her doctor suggested going along to community groups to try to meet new people. This led to Zahra discovering The Welcoming Friendship Project.

'At first, I attended the Welcoming English classes and Employability course and, after two sessions, I made friends from Ukraine, Mexico, and Tunisia. We started to meet outside The Welcoming and go to different places. It was really nice.' 

Helping others

With her confidence building, Zahra stepped up her involvement, resulting in new opportunities.

'I then joined the Women Conversation Space cooking sessions. There I met Gosia, the group facilitator, and other new people. Soon after Gosia offered me the opportunity to become a volunteer with the Afghan Women Group as I could speak Farsi and could help with the translation. This was a really great experience as I could use my own language to help others, and it also helped me to improve my English. It felt good to be able to help other people, and I found Iranian friends among the other volunteers!'

This summer, Zahra moved forward to volunteer as a group facilitator for The Welcoming weekly gardening group.

Settled and happy

The Welcoming’s vision of a warm, diverse, inclusive Scotland is one that Zahra began to fully experience. As her confidence grew, her potential began to shine through.

'It’s hard to express how grateful I am for The Welcoming and its staff. Thanks to The Welcoming, I found myself in Edinburgh! There was a time when I lost my confidence to speak English and to look for a job, but thanks to The Welcoming, I managed to rebuild it.'
'It means a lot to me, and my husband says that he can see a huge difference in me. I became more confident in speaking English, I made friends, I started to apply for jobs, and when I went for a job interview, I was very calm.' 
'Now I am working at a café and still volunteer and participate in various activities at The Welcoming. I feel much better and settled in Edinburgh.'

If you’d like to find out more about The Welcoming, please visit their page on the Befriending Networks Directory.