Dialogue for Destitution Project

In Partnership with:

Dialogue for Destitution is a citizens media project, which aims to provide a platform for Asylum Seekers, Refugees, and supporters, to raise awareness on the issue of Destitution and to tell their story.  Dialogue for Destitution aims to promote the active and valued participation of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in community roles and the project is also actively involved in campaigning – as part of the Still Human Still Here Network, to end the policy of destitution in the UK.

The project includes the following Components:

World Spirit Forum Theatre Group

A group of asylum seekers will continue devising forum theatre which will be taken to local community events but will also be turned into workshops which can be taken into schools etc. in order to raise awareness about the issue of destitution and promote cultural diversity.

Community Work-in

The Dialogue for Destitution Community Work-in is a project which aims to challenge government policy on the right to work, raise awareness about the issue of destitution and promote the active and valuable participation of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in community roles.

Visual Arts Group

This thread of Dialogue for Destitution will bring artists both from the Asylum Seeking community and outside it to produce visual art work which highlights the incongruity between the ‘numbers people have in their heads’ and the true figures of Asylum and Immigration more generally.

Dialogue Events

Dialogue events will be an opportunity to bring together the wider community into one space for a day of intensive conversations, workshops, media-showings and performances which bring the issue of destitution, and the voices of participants into the spotlight.  These events provide a chance to galvanize enthusiasm, increase participation and celebrate the ongoing

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The idea, and ultimately the enthusiasm for this project, arose from shared concerns and conversations. A number of months back as an assignment for a Community Development degree, one of the organisers on placement at the Govan and Craigton Integration Network (GCIN), had the task of working towards “empowerment”. He set up a Men’s Forum on the basis that many of the men going along to GCIN’s drop-ins had expressed a desire to have a space and opportunity to talk about worries, problems they faced or just chat about things that interested them.  A recurring topic – and one that many of the men had experienced firsthand and were keen to address, – was that of destitution.

Destitution is a devastating reality that many asylum seekers face in the UK when their request for asylum has been rejected and it is far too dangerous to return to their country of origin. The Men’s Forum wanted local people to know about it, to understand and to help create home-grown solutions to the problems faced by those who are destitute or face destitution. Their initial idea was to organise a benefit gig, then perhaps begin a campaign.  And as more people got involved the ideas grew as did the conversations.  Other volunteers at the GCIN drop-ins, community activists, members of other organisations like the Unfinished Picture Project, edge eradica – a Forum Theatre group from Edinburgh, and the Scottish Refugee Council are but a few of the organisations involved.

The potential strength of this project is that it is truly, but also almost accidentally, bottom-up – taking the needs and wishes of people as the starting point.  We are aware, however, that this is also ambitious and the concerns are many, given that through research and the dialogue already in full swing regarding destitution, we realise that the issues go much further and run deeper:

  • the question of ‘integration’ and communities as potentially welcoming or hostile environments;
  • the emotional impact and the neglected humanity hidden behind cold statistics and abrupt, mainstream-media reporting; and
  • the question of activity, of putting something back into communities, of sharing skills, strengths and stories…

We hope to begin discussing all of these aspects and many more at the event, but in order to create dialogue that produces constructive and positive solutions, and to get this project going in Govan, we also need input, ideas and passion from as many people as possible, so please get in touch if you would like to be involved!

 

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