Tens of thousands of people have attended candlelight vigils across Scotland showing solidarity with and welcoming refugees from Syria and elsewhere who are victims of conflicts and wars.
Collection centres have been set up all over Scotland – cities, towns, villages, islands have all put in motion a network of people, transport and places where donations of clothing, food and money may be made. It has been difficult to keep up with the enormous generosity of the Scottish people.
Saturday, 12th September saw many places holding vigils with people coming together in support of the Syrian refugees. Syrians already living in Scotland came to join them. At the “Edinburgh Sees Syria” event people were encouraged to hold candles in memory of all those refugees who have died in their attempt to reach a safe haven; they were also asked to write on the palms of their hands “We See You”, “We See Syria” and other similar memes. Syrians wrote on their hands “THANK YOU SCOTLAND” and many were filmed or interviewed about their lives in Scotland. These were calm, quiet family events with many children joining in waving their flags and banners – many of them enjoyed writing on their hands.
At “Edinburgh Sees Syria” there were inspirational speeches and entertainment provided by “Protest in Harmony”, a singing group, where everyone was encouraged to join in with singing short songs or choruses.
When darkness fell, rows of candles were lit along the walls beside the Scottish Parliament.
The largest event vigil was held in Glasgow’s George Square – “Glasgow Sees Syria” – where candles were lit and placed all together at the foot of a central monument below an enormous cut out spelling “SYRIA”.
Alexis Stearns, who organised the Glasgow event, said the response was overwhelming, and that the message was that “as a wealthy country, many of our citizens want to register their disgust at how little our government is doing to tackle a very serious situation.
“We hope that other towns and cities will now be inspired to launch events so that we can send a message from every corner of the world.”
The event’s Facebook Page called participants to “tell our politicians that the people of Glasgow will not abide the Home Office decision to help so few refugees”.
Many participants who gathered heeded and held banners which included “Refugees Welcome Here” and “Aye Welcome Refugees”.
Speaking at the event, Glasgow’s new city council leader, Labour’s Frank McAveety, told the crowds: “This is a humanitarian crisis. There are many of us who came from all over Europe and the world to come and settle here. Scotland is a diverse nation and Glasgow stands ready to respond in the best way possible.”
Glasgow Council has now pledged to welcome and support a thousand refugees.
Others who attended and spoke at the event included Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Minister for Europe and International Development, “Glasgow Girl” Amal Azzudin, a campaigner and community worker, Professor Alison Phipps, co-convener of the Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network, as well as numerous speakers and community leaders.
Rob McDowall, member of the Equality Council and a human rights advocate, who attended the vigil with his partner Ryan Veeramootoo, said: “We wanted to show our solidarity and support, and demonstrate that Glasgow is a welcoming place for refugees.
“Glasgow has a reputation for being a welcoming city – I think we have all been appalled by what has been going and its time to demonstrate our support and demand that more needs to be done.
“It is great to see so many people out and I know there are people from a variety of social and political backgrounds. This is something which is really outside of the normal politics and it is really heartening to see so many people here.”
“Equality, compassion and justice are important to me as a gay man, and these principles should be applied to all, no one is illegal, humanity is something we all share and need to recognise in one another.”
St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow hosted “Glasgow Hears Syria”, a musical response to the refugee crisis.
Funds raised by the event will be split between Amnesty International and the Migrant Offshore Aid Agency.
Other places held similar events – “Everywhere Sees Syria” was the message being put across in Scotland and elsewhere, a message to say “We are not immune to the plight of refugees everywhere”.
Social media was used to put across the massive amount of information regarding where people could donate clothes, food and other items needed. Donations may be given to specified fund-raising organisations.
CalAid and Scottish Action for Refugees (SAFR) were overwhelmed with offers of help: people turned up and gave hundreds of hours of assistance to collect, sort and box up all donations. There were offers of transport and storage space – some offered warehousing in which to store what cannot be sent abroad straight away.
If you want to help, please join various groups or just show up at the following collection points:
With thanks to Claire Macaulay and the Admins of Scottish Action For Refugees (SAFR) on Facebook for their exhaustive lists – used with permission.
Ayrshire – (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for individual contact details)
|WestGAP office (Cessnock)||Tuesdays and Fridays|
|University of the West of Scotland Student Union (Paisley)||Mondays and Wednesdays 11am – 4pm|
|Strathclyde Student Union||Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm|
|Solid Rock Cycles in Glasgow||Saturdays 10am – 6pm|
|Ruth Mckenna (West End)||Contact 07792202155.|
|Lissy Lamb McMenamin (South Side)||Contact 07931630232|
|Rehana Mahmood (South Side)||Contact 07808512406 See page for list of wanted items:https://www.facebook.com/groups/scottishafr/permalink/397472390449426/?com
Megan Rose O’Donnell
Fauldhouse, Whitburn and Longridge:
07881 512 341
Addiewell, West Calder, Polbeth, Stoneyburn and Bents:
St Patrick’s Church Hall, Strathaven ( Saturday 12/9/15 from 11.30am)
East Kilbride, Blantyre, Hamilton:
Erskine (in collaboration with CalAid)
Erskine Parish Church every day from 9am or message Violet-Anne Woods for pick-up
For a list of required items see
Adelphi Hall, 1 Priory Avenue, Gallowhill, Paisley PA3 4NS
Tuesday: 12 until 7pm
Thursday: 12 until 7pm
Saturday: 12 until 4pm
Edinburgh and Lothian
Edinburgh Student Collection, 10th September, location TBC (Contact Paula Tisi)
Studio 24, Calton Rd – Edinburgh (Tuesday and Thursday, 2-7pm) Main one for Edinburgh
Flux shop – Dunbar Yvonne Earl, Black Adder Church, Room 4 – North Berwick Cindy Galbraith – Haddington
Edinburgh Direct Aid, EDA Warehouse, 16a West Harbour Road, Edinburgh, EH5 1PN (Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11am – 3pm)
George Kerevan, Unit 1, 6 Mitchell’s Close, EH41 3NB
Yvonne Earl, Black Adder Church, Room 4
Bathgate and Armadale:
Livingston, East Calder and Broxburn
Hilltop Horses – Industrial estate, Wick.
Mon – Sat 10-5pm Mairi Anne Cormack
Flavours ice cream shop.
Wed-Sun 12-7pm (closed Mon & Tues)
Woodside stores (Watten shop)
Wendy McGowan. Mon-Sat 7am – 7pm
Sun 10 – 4 pm
John O’ Groats
Flavours ice cream shop
Mon-Fri 12-5pm Sat & Sun 12-6pm
Free church hall. Contact Mhairi Magee for access.
07979226060 / 01641521325
Aye2Aye Tuesdays and Thursdays 11.00 – 16.00
Amy Kinsey, 17 Faravel, Stromness, (Scheduled delivery is Friday 11th Sep)
Please contact email@example.com
Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts, 43-47 Jopp’s Lane, Aberdeen AB25 1BX, contact is Rachel Mearns, Friday 4th September (9am-3pm), Saturday 5th September (9am-4pm)
Peterculter + Drumoak: Contact Di Melville via SAFR or text her on 07792026927
Inverurie / Insch / Huntly: Contact Vicky Briggs via SAFR,
Lesley De Jager has offered a drop-off point at South Church Manse (the Manse, not the Church) at 74 Cameron Street. If no one is in leave your donation by the back door. Lesley can pick up donations in the evenings from Stonehaven/surrounding area, call her on 07549 876604
Arbroath– Fisherman’s Inn. 57 High Street, Arbroath, Angus, DD11 1AN.
Opening Hours: 11am-12pm Sun-Thurs, Fri/Sat 11am-1am
Tel: 01241 230240
Contact Kelly 07538716472 or Cat 07969571234
Arbroath- Arbroath Constituency Office … 16 Brothock Bridge, Arbroath, DD11 1NG.
Forfar– Flowers Galore 108 – 110 East High St, DD8 2ET.
Contact Margaret 07818018404
Forfar– Laura Costello, 16 osprey drive, Gowanbank, Forfar, dd8 2UW
Kirriemuir– Pathhead Equestrian Centre, Forfar Rd, Kirriemuir, Angus DD8 5BY
Jewellery Workshop, 16A Bank St, Kirriemuir, Angus DD8 4BG
Letham– Laura Kidd, 29 Guthrie St Letham, DD8 2PS.
Carnoustie– Karma Spa, 4 Queen Street, Carnoustie, Angus, DD7 7AB
For more details of Angus drop off points please contact:
Eddie Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org 07985341334
Gillis Mclean email@example.com
Tannadice– The Old Smithy, 19 South Esk Road, Tannadice, DD83SH
Ask for Gwen
Lunan Bay– Lunan Bay Diner, Lunan Bay, Inverkeilor, Arbroath DD11 5ST.
Starting to receive donations from Saturday 5th
The Oban collection point is at the Oban Youth Café (4 Albany Terrace) and that collection days and times are
Monday 10am to 6pm, Tuesday 10am to 5.30pm, Wednesday 11am to 4pm, Thursday 3pm to 7pm and Friday 2.30pm to 7.30pm.
Send Donations Direct to Camp Areas:
GREECE and the Greek Islands – Kos, Lesbos, Rhodes
Hellenic Postal Office of Mythymna, ℅ The Captain’s Table, Molyvos 81108, Lesvos, Greece
Helping Hands of Rhodes
Sling Solidarity Project (Slings for Kos)
You can also purchase items straight from their Amazon Wishlist which will then be sent on to the camps:
There is also a list of countries involved in “Europe See Syria” on SAFR’s Facebook page.