Area of work:
‘Welcoming a Greener Future’ helps Edinburgh’s recently-arrived migrants and refugees learn about climate change, and encourages them to make positive changes that will improve their lives while also reducing carbon emissions. The project is run by charity The Welcoming.
The initiative helps refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in Edinburgh to come together through climate-focused activities such as food growing and cooking, home energy savings and waste reduction. Through the project, refugees find friends, save money, improve their health and wellbeing, and get support to settle down comfortably in their new community.
The project’s main focus areas are home energy and recycling support, food sustainability including home food growing, and boosting climate literacy through English lessons. The project began in 2015, with many activities switching online after the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. The sessions are designed to be friendly, fun and accessible.
Working with partner organisations is key to The Welcoming’s success – it brings in a range of charities to deliver workshops and activities, and has played a leading role organising events such as the Edinburgh Climate Festival.
The project has created volunteering opportunities for more than 50 people, both native Scots and migrants. Some volunteers have credited their experience with helping them find paid employment.
Advice, connections and new skills
The Welcoming helps new migrants stay warm and save on their energy bills – making sure they can operate their boiler and heating controls, deal with energy companies, and get further support from other energy charities and services.
The organisation has also given people one-to-one support on recycling in their new homes, and run dozens of recycling workshops. And it has organised swapshops where people can exchange items. In 2017 a separate social enterprise, Remode, spun out of The Welcoming’s reuse work. This runs workshops and repurposes leftover textiles.
The Welcoming also offers cooking sessions, food sustainability workshops and support for home food growing. These help people save money and eat healthily, with climate benefits too.
The Welcoming have provided seed packs and planters, and offer monthly support workshops. The organisation’s community demonstration garden allows people to learn about food growing, and share green skills and traditions from their home countries, while spending quality time outdoors.
From garden novice to master grower: Tarek’s story
The Welcoming has helped Syrian refugee Tarek Awad recycle and cut his energy waste. And even though he had never gardened before arriving in the UK, help to grow his own food has had a powerful impact.
Tarek says: “Gardening makes me happy – I found out I have green fingers. It also helped me with my neighbours – one neighbour who works as a gardener came to speak to me and now we are friends.
“Growing my own food saves me a lot of money. My children eat fresh veg every day. They eat directly from the land. We use parsley a lot in our cooking so we have it every day in the kitchen, also strawberries, mint, garlic, tomato, lettuce, carrots, everything.
“I share the food I grow with our street and the Syrian community. I also give food for the church and take my food there to make meals for the community. Every time my wife cooks a big barbecue or something we give my elderly neighbour a plate and invite neighbours. My neighbour jokes they almost don’t need to go shopping.
“Being involved in The Welcoming has made me confident with the community. As a refugee I was afraid to speak English, now I’m confident.”
27 October 2022
Energy Access Skills
Greening All Work
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