Khabat Malarasheed, a Syrian Refugee living in Scotland, shares why she believes everyone living in Scotland has the right to feel they belong. For the last few years, Khabat has worked alongside JustCitizens, a JustRight Scotland project that makes the case for everyone living in Scotland to be able to access equal rights, regardless of their immigration status.
It all started on the 27th July 2020. At that time, I was volunteering on an asylum seeker project when I was told about JustCitizens, run by JustRight Scotland. I was interested in who they were and what they did, so I started to read more about their work. The work they were doing was outstanding. I found out that they were challenging injustice around citizenship in Scotland and promoting access to equal rights. It gives people more of an understanding of what it means to be a citizen living in Scotland.
I started to take part in online meetings where I gained new skills and made connections. I met journalists, advisers and amazing people from different nations. In our regular meetings, we would discuss topics such as access to education in Scotland for refugees, housing rights, health and employability. We were offered training and formed groups to look at specific issues in society.
I later became involved in a group that discussed access to healthcare for refugees and we met and heard from people whose lives were being affected because of a lack of access. We listened to their stories, their personal experiences of how they struggled to access health services and the unnecessary obstacles they were facing.
It was through working on this healthcare project that I started to feel more positive and connected to our community. I regard the way we communicate with each other as the most important tool we have. I am convinced that if we believe in equality and truly want to make a difference in society, we can.
Challenging injustices around citizenship
There is no doubt that communication plays a vital part in society. That’s why I’m pleased to write and speak about my experience with JustCitizens and the work they do to ensure that migrants’ voices are heard and advocate for positive change.
JustCitizens is a JustRight Scotland project making the case for everyone living in Scotland to be able to access equal rights, regardless of their immigration status. JustCitizens believes that everyone living in Scotland has the right to belong, whether you are an EU citizen, refugee or someone seeking asylum. JustCitizens bravely wanted to challenge the injustice around citizenship – and advocate for everyone living in Scotland to be able to access equal rights, no matter their migration background.
“Everyone living in Scotland has the right to belong”
JustCitizens is a collective of migrants living in Scotland from diverse backgrounds, including those with experience of the UK asylum system and of surviving in the UK. JustCitizens aim to build a more equal vision of citizenship and belonging for people living in Scotland.
The team at JustCitizens believe that everyone living in Scotland has the right to belong, including EU nationals, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from many other backgrounds, as well as native Scots. The JustCitizens panel I am on exists to amplify the voices of migrants themselves and help them advocate for the changes they wish to see in society.
As part of the project, we met with other refugees and asylum seekers who were offered training, workshops and networking opportunities. Together, we explore how we can make attitudes towards citizenship kinder and hear from native Scots who want to work in solidarity with us.
JustCitizens continue their work to find out how the health service and associated advice can be improved to support migrants living in Scotland. The group works to create a strategy for social citizenship, providing training about different issues and how to use the law and legal processes to highlight an issue and act on it to create real change in people’s everyday lives.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EachOther.
About ‘The Inspired Source’ Series
This series is part of our work to amplify the voices of aspiring writers that are underrepresented in the media and marginalised by society. Each piece examines a human rights issue by which the author or their community is affected. Where possible, authors outline a position on how we might begin to address the issue. Find out more about the series and how to send us a pitch on this page.