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A group of women are helping young people from Glasgow’s African community to create new lives in Scotland. 

The ladies have become community champions supporting families to overcome challenges as they build a future in the city. 

The group are part of One Community which is led by prominent campaigner Khadija Coll who has spent more than 25 years working in Scotland and Africa with refugees. Khadija has developed the new project in collaboration with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, which specialises in prevention work.

The champions have been recruited from within Glasgow’s Horn of Africa community and have received a range of training so they can ensure people get the right support to deal with everything from accessing education and employment opportunities to attending medical appointments. 

Khadija explained: “The champions are dedicated women who understand the challenges that young people sometimes face settling in a new country.  It’s crucial that if issues do come up help is there to keep young people on the right track and making positive choices. Scotland is an inclusive and friendly country with great opportunities for young people, we want to make sure they can make the most of those opportunities. Working together as one community we can help Scotland to succeed.”

Some members of the estimated 3,000 strong Somali community in Glasgow are also still having to deal with traumas suffered during the long-running conflict in the country. Unfortunately, as with many communities, there can be a stigma attached to mental health issues. The champions are working to overcome that stigma and ensure people can access the support they need. 

Community Champion Samira said: “Sometimes people just need to know they are not alone, and there is a community there ready to help them. We never sit in judgement and everything we do is completely confidential. Whatever the issue we will do our best to help them get the right support.”

The project was officially launched by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson today (Wednesday June13th) at Sunshine Koffee in Glasgow’s Eglinton Toll area. The cafe has become a popular community hub. 

Commenting on the project Mr Matheson said, “This project will have a crucial role in working with BME communities across Glasgow helping them to overcome barriers in access to education and encouraging positive life choices. Today I’ve had the opportunity to hear from some of the young people already benefiting from One Community’s mentoring programme which reaches out to those who may feel disconnected from the community. The project’s community champions provide vital support and empower these young people helping them move away from a potential life of chaos and violence. We want to build inclusive, resilient and safe communities across Scotland and we will continue to invest in the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to deliver innovative ways to tackle violence.”

Chief Inspector Alastair Muir of the SVRU, said: “We know that when people don’t feel included they can make poor decisions and get involved in activities which they may come to regret. That’s why the help the champions offer is so important. Working as one community we can ensure every young person achieves their potential.” 

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