Mental Health and Migration, Workers Rights in Scotland
On Saturday 28th October, we gathered together at the Community Wellbeing Space to find common ground and build solidarity together in the struggles of all people and workers, understanding the effect of global inequality on our wellbeing and imagining together a different future.We held creative activities, trainings, and moments of sharing.
Throughout the day, as a diverse community, we discussed our different thoughts and felt our connections to the struggles of people in Palestine and all over the world and held space for conversations about change, leading to expressions during the open mic for an end to genocide and oppression and a world of peace and safety.
We began the day with an in-depth training session about workers rights in Scotland facilitated by Carmen Simon and Des Loughney of Support@Work, Unite the Union. This training was open to everyone and was extremely well attended, with people from Wester Hailes, wider Edinburgh and even some traveling from Glasgow. We were people with a wide variety of different countries of birth coming together to learn what our rights are as workers, and how we can organise together for better ones. This session was designed in direct response to the needs of people who visit and access our space, and a powerful sense of community agency was carried throughout the session as a result.
CWC member Chantal of Queen Vital provided us with a free, nourishing community meal for lunch: a comforting vegan stew with roast peppers and potatoes, perfect for the cold weather. While we enjoyed our meal together, we connected with one another in conversation about what unites us; it was a beautiful hour of togetherness in the community.
After lunch, artist Khadea Santi facilitated a creative collage and writing workshop where we explored how hostile migration laws affect all our mental health. Throughout the session, people exchanged languages, mental health advice, and the importance of taking a breath. The workshop began with Khadea asking “what do you want for yourself in the future?”, which is a question that not everybody is given the invitation or chance to reflect on, so the opportunity to travel towards being able to imagine different futures for ourselves was a powerful one. Themes that came out of this discussion included wanting safe homes, peace in our home countries, to write books, to connect with nature, and to breathe freely. Having reflected on our hopes and intentions, we collaged and wrote letters to our future selves to affirm our journeys and envision new ones. These letters were then put in the post for people to receive in a few weeks’ time, which allowed people to receive the letters from their past selves, reflect on them, and feel affirmed within their homes long after they had left the Space.
We then came together to enjoy a ‘journeys’ themed open mic session hosted by Min at which people shared songs from different cultures, poems from Palestine and radical honesty about experiences of the trauma of war. Two particularly powerful moments were created when an English army veteran and a Syrian migrant took the stage in a unanimous call for peace, which served as an inspirational reminder of the healing that’s both needed and possible in the world, and also within our local communities. And this makes possible and is made possible by the political change needed in our world - one powerful contribution to the open mic was the statement that, ‘when you are a soldier they tell you a story and make you believe what you are doing is right. But the story is a lie and all you have to do is follow the money. It's all about the resources.’
The Community Wellbeing Space housed a thunderous collective voice for peace across cultures, viewpoints, countries, religions and differences, which was extremely moving to be a part of.