The Welcoming Association - #Befriending is embracing different cultures

Tue 1 Nov 2022

During #BefriendingWeek, let's hear what #BefriendingIs from The Welcoming Association:

Friendship Project – Case Study

The Welcoming’s Friendship Project started in 2016 with the aim to support New Scots (refugees, asylum seekers and migrants) to overcome social isolation and build community in Edinburgh. Over the past six years, we have enabled over 500 New Scots to develop lasting friendships with members of their new local community.

Volunteering as a Befriender

Following the headlines coming out of Afghanistan in August 2021, Katie was determined to find a way to support newly arrived refugees in Edinburgh. She felt there was so much that people like her could do in terms of community support, and she really wanted to be part of it.

Katie applied to become a befriender at The Welcoming in October 2021 and, following the recruitment and induction process, in December she was introduced to A - a young Syrian women with two young children who at the time was expecting a her third.  

For nine months Katie and A met regularly and had the opportunity to get to know each other and their respective families. Together they often went for walks, they explored different part of Edinburgh, they told each other stories about their life and their shared food. Katie helped A to understand and navigate local systems, and build confidence in organising her everyday life. Spending time with A allowed Katie to learn about the Syrian culture and develop a better understanding of the challenges faced by New Scots.

With time, they build a relationship of trust which led to a real friendship. In her final report to The Welcoming, Katie said:

“I enjoyed getting to know A very much and being able to help her with some of the challenges she has faced; and with advice; as she plans for her future here. I appreciate spending time with A and her children alongside my own children who I feel have learned a lot about cultural diversity as a result of our friendship.”

Their nine months befriending experience at the Welcoming came to an end in August 2022 but they are both committed to continue their friendship and are looking forward to their future meet ups.

The experience has motivated Katie to do more volunteering and campaign for the rights of refugees.


By: The Welcoming Association

If you're inspired and would like to get involved please visit:

Welcome! - The Welcoming