A local community group led by Syrian women who fled their war-torn homeland in 2015, was runner-up in the Community Development category of the Ethnic Minority Impact Awards.
The Clydebank-based Moments of Freedom group was recognised for their contribution to Scottish society at an awards ceremony in the Glasgow Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Moments of Freedom was established in 2018 and named after the moments the women have to focus on themselves and their wellbeing as a group.
They worked hard to make meaningful connections across their local community and in sharing their learning across Scotland for the benefit of other new Scot families.
It has now been running for over a year and the group regularly hold community gatherings and women’s wellbeing events in Clydebank.
Jill Keegan, community development worker, said: “It’s been so inspiring to watch the women develop as a group, and see the impact it has had, not just on their own lives, but on the lives of other women in Clydebank.
“The fact that they were runners-up for this award is a worthy recognition of all the hard work they have put into trying to make their community a better place – for everyone in it.”
Moments of Freedom kindly shared their story with Clydesider readers in Issue 9 and we are delighted to share it online:-
By Noura, Ola, Niroz and Amira
“Freedom is a sun that should shine everywhere.”
Freedom is to be where we can be responsible for ourselves. It is not limited to what we want but it is also about having choice and not being forced to do what we do not want to do.
To be free is not just to get rid of the restrictions but to live in a way that respects and promotes the freedom of others – this is freedom. Here you will read our article about freedom.
In Search of Safety
We are a group of Syrian women, driven out of our homes by war. We came to Scotland in search of safety and a better future for our children.
We have all resettled in Clydebank. We are all neighbours – many of us came to Scotland on the same day – 24th November 2015. It is a very friendly community and we have very warm feelings for the people here. But we still felt there was something missing and we all wanted to connect more with the world around us.
“The difference between here and Syria is like the difference between the earth and the sky, especially the Syria of recent years.”
We met with Outside the Box to talk about ways we can look forward, not back. To do this we started our project, ‘Moments of Freedom’.
“We thought wherever it goes from here, it could be the start of something big.”
The Moments of Freedom Story
“When we first came, everything was new, we were quite socially isolated. Moments of Freedom was a channel to meet new people.”
Moments of Freedom is a way for us to share ourselves with the community and for the community to share themselves with us. Being new in a community means that people often don’t know about you or your culture.
“It feels sometimes that neighbours are hesitant to engage with us.”
Through Moments of Freedom we want our voice to reach everybody so that we can tell people who we are. Since the first meeting, we felt less like strangers.
The activities we did together were beautiful and interesting helping us to be more confident and less stressed to be in the local community.
Since this time we held a Story-telling event at Centre 81 open to all the community in Clydebank.
The event made us feel very proud, we felt we had really achieved something. We were so happy to meet so many new faces. People were happy, laughing, enjoying the food, music and story-telling. It was a very joyful day. People gave us such positive feedback.
Women told us they felt this was what is missing from Clydebank, a chance to meet in a friendly place, to come together to have fun and time for themselves. This highlighted to us the gaps we felt were the same for other women of our age in Clydebank.
The event was a success but we knew that we had to keep the momentum going and so decided we’d like to hold similar mini events once a month that we call our Community Gatherings.
We review the Gatherings as we go so that each one is a little different. We want to focus the Gatherings on wellbeing, using activities like dance, yoga and massage so that people can come to relax.
“We still struggle to meet others and communicate with people.”
“It’s hard to carry on relationships with people after an event or Gathering.”
We are looking to connect with lots of other women across Clydebank, we believe that wellbeing is very important in life, we are working together to develop spaces where women can come to relax and focus on themselves through different wellbeing activities.
What matters to us is being welcomed and accepted with open arms and we want to share these Moments of Freedom with you.