From offering homes to collecting food and medical supplies: what Scotland is doing to help the refugee crisis

First published in the Sunday Herald on 06/09/15 (in print and online – available here)


The distressing image of drowned three-year-old Aylan Kurdi has prompted offers of help, donations of cash and fundraising projects across the UK.

Yesterday charity Save the Children said it had received more than £500,000 in donations in the last 24 hours alone, due in part to support from authors such as Patrick Ness.

Others – including Live Aid campaigner Bob Geldof – have offered to house refugees in their own homes. Glasgow-based charity Positive Action in Housing said 350 people across the UK have signed up to its refugee hosting scheme – in which volunteers offer up space in their home for a few days, weeks, or longer – in the space of just 12 hours.

Around 20 vigils have also been planned taking place across Europe, including in the UK, Greece, Germany, France and Italy.

More than 12,000 people have indicated they will be attending a vigil in Glasgow next Saturday. The Glasgow Sees Syria event will be held at 2.30pm in George Square. It aims to peacefully protest against the UK government and urge Tory ministers to do more, with people encouraged to bring a candle to light in remembrance of those who have died trying to make it to safety.

Edinburgh will hold an Edinburgh Sees Syria event on the same day at 2.30pm outside the Scottish Parliament. Nearly 6,000 people have indicated they will be attending on the event’s Facebook page.

Here are some of the ways in which Scotland is showing its support for the refugee crisis – and how you can help.


Ten years ago, Amal Azzudin was one of seven teenagers who highlighted the poor treatment of refugees and became known as the Glasgow Girls. Their campaign, in response to the detention of one of their school friends, brought the issue to the attention of the public and even inspired a musical.

Now Azzudin will be travelling to Greece with two other members from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees – Pinar Aksu and Margaret Woods – to help the refugees who have arrived there.

Azzudin, who is currently working with the Mental Health Foundation helping refugee women who are experiencing mental health problems, said the trip aims to work with the local volunteers in Greece in order to find out what help is needed and to buy as many supplies that they can. All the money raised will be going straight to helping the refugees as the committee members are paying for their own expenses. She said while most of the help is currently going to Calais, it is essential that help gets to refugees in other areas of Europe too.

The campaigners hope to take photos and testimonials from the refugees who are in Greece to highlight the struggles they have faced attempting to find a safe place to live. They also hope to establish links with the volunteers in Greece and that helping the refugees there will become an ongoing project.

You can help by donating to the cause online at:

The University of Strathclyde student union is collecting items for Calais and can be dropped of at 90 John Street, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Glasgow Night Shelter aims to offer a safe place for destitute asylum seekers in Glasgow and is currently looking for volunteers and has started a fundraising campaign for new mattresses. They are also in the process of setting up a Women’s Night Shelter and are currently looking for premises.

MILK cafe offers a place where ethnic minority women in Glasgow can receive employability support including help English langauge, form filling and interview skills.

The University of Glasgow is collecting sanitary products to send to the women in the camps in Calais, which can be dropped of at the university’s Adam Smith building.

Yoga and Pilates Place owner is organising an open day with free classes on the 12th September 10am-2pm and asking those who join in to make a donation to support the refugees. Donations can also be made online:


There is a drop off point for CalAid at Studio 24 in central Edinburgh which will be open Tuesdays and Thusdays 2pm-7pm. The Facebook page CalAid Edinburgh gives a list of items that they are currently collecting.


In Shetland, Shetland Solidarity with Refugees Facebook page is a platform which shares local events which are being held in the Shetland area. On Sunday the 13th September Levenwick Hall will be holding a Sunday Tea from 2pm to 5pm to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières who are delivering medical assistance to refugees. Burra Public Hall is a drop off point for supplies this Sunday between 9-7pm with a list of what is desperately need on their Facebook page.


Orkney will be holding an Orkney Sees Syria event at Cathedral Square at midday on the 12th September and in line with the other events are asking people to light candles in remembrance of those who have lost their lives. They will also be taking collections for CalAid to assist refugees who are living in the refugee camps in Calais.


Dundee Refugee support is collecting donations to send to Calais and have set up a crowd funding page with the hope of raising £2000 to create and deliver over a 100 refugee kits priced at £15. They have since reached they’re target and it is continuing to grow;


Angus Solidarity for Refugees is currently collecting items throughout the area to send to refugees in Hungary;


Aberdeen Solidarity With Refugees is collecting items to send to the refugees in Calais and have a list on their Facebook page with what items they are seeking.


Glenrothes/Fife Calais Refugee Collection organise collections fro items to send to Calais throughout Fife;

Dumfries and Galloway

The group A Massive Outpouring of Love – Dumfries and Galloway Refugee Action are collecting supplies throughout the area, with a central drop off point in Dumfries. They are also encouraging people to write letters of support and encouragement and draw pictures so that those who are not able to contribute financially can be a part of the campaign.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Dumfries have been collecting supplies and have another drop of session planned for Tuesday the 8th September between 6:30pm and 9pm with all donations going to Calais.


The project Wishaw to Calais aims to take supplies to the refugee camps in Calais on the 16th October and are looking for item donations; a list can be found on their Facebook page. They also have a crowd funding page to help cover the petrol cost of taking the items.

The Borders

A group of friends have decided to use their horsebox to take supplies from Peebles to Calais. The group have raised money through a crowd funding page and have been collection donations such as food and medical supplies. More information can be found on It Takes a Village – Peebles Facebook page.

Barrie Cunning set up a Just Giving page with the aim of raising £2000 for the refugees in Calais;

East Renfrewshire

A group in East Renfrewshire are attempting to raise £2000 in order to send winter aid to Calais. They are also taking donation of goods such as tents, sleeping bags and blankets. They aim to send out the supplies by the end of October/November. You can find more information on


Callander has a Refugee Aid Drop Off point at McLaren Community Leisure Centre on Monday 7th September 9am-9pm.

Throughout Scotland:

Slings for Kos is a Facebook group set up by Rachel Durkin and is looking for donations of baby slings and carriers to send to Kos. They are also looking for volunteers who would like to collect for a particular area.

The Scottish Refugee Council are taking donations and you can show your support by purchasing one of their T-shirts.

Positive Action in Housing is also looking for volunteers to be able to host destitute refugees who have nowhere else to stay usually ask for them to stay about 1 or 2 weeks. They also have a hardship fund for refugees; and a European Refugee Crisis Appeal;

FreshAid is looking for donations of hygiene products for refugees with a list of required items being available on their Facebook;

Throughout the UK:

The group Music Against Borders is planning to take musical instruments to Calais on the 20th October. At the moment there are no collection points in Scotland, but instruments can be sent via courier to the group or you can volunteer or start your own collection point. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Médecins Sans Frontières are a medical organisation who deliver care directly to those who need it. You can help by donating through their website.

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