Syrian refugees in Glasgow to get ‘Scottish starter packs’

Selina Hales, who set up  Community group Refuweegee- offering Syrian refugees 'Scottish Starter Packs'. Picture: Hemedia
Selina Hales, who set up Community group Refuweegee- offering Syrian refugees 'Scottish Starter Packs'. Picture: Hemedia
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SYRIAN refugees are being given ‘Scottish starter packs’ containing tartan teddies, local sweets and hand-written letters from kind residents.

As well as basic essentials such as toiletries, blankets and stationary, the packs also include Tunnock’s teacakes and grovelling apologies for the bad weather.

One of several hand-written letters addressed to the refugees. Picture: Hemedia

One of several hand-written letters addressed to the refugees. Picture: Hemedia

Community group Refuweegee will hand out the packs to those refugees arriving in Glasgow by the end of the year.

Just over 100 refugees are expected to arrive in Scotland’s biggest city by the end of the year and the community group hopes the kits will make them feel welcome.

The name for the community group is a Hollywood power couple combination of the words ‘weegie’-local slang for someone from Glasgow - and ‘refugee’.

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It includes essential items and people have suggested typical Glaswegian stuff such as Tunnock’s teacakes, tartan teddies and even traffic cones

Selina Hales

Selina Hales, 32, a project manager at Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, set up the project two weeks ago.

She has already been inundated with letters and ideas.

She said: “We wanted to make these people fleeing conflict feel as welcome as I did when I first came to the city. It’s a real personal welcome into the community.

“It includes essential items and people have suggested typical Glaswegian stuff such as Tunnock’s teacakes, tartan teddies and even traffic cones.

No prizes for guessing what Glasgow staples were included. Picture: Hemedia

No prizes for guessing what Glasgow staples were included. Picture: Hemedia

“But we had to quickly turn down the traffic cone idea because it would be a bit too bulky.

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“Over 50 letters and postcards have been sent in to me in the past two weeks and it’s just been so overwhelming.

“Kids from after school clubs have sent in a load of letters where they mostly apologise for how bad the weather is.

“I’ve spent too much time crying about how beautiful the people of Glasgow are.

“The response to it all has been absolutely amazing. For me, there’s nothing nicer than getting a nice, personal handwritten note.

“I’d tried to avoid the news because it was far too upsetting but when I did catch it one night I was just so moved by what they were going through that I had to try and do something.”

Selina defines a Refuweegee as “a person who upon arrival in Glasgow is embraced by the people of the city, a person considered to be local”.

READ MORE - Scotland to take in 300 refugees before Christmas

Maps of Glasgow and contact details for local services are some of the more practical elements of the welcome packages.

Letters to refugees can be dropped off at any Oxfam store in Glasgow which all have a special Refuweegee drop box, while donations are being taken in at amiExecutive in the city centre.

An extract from one letter says: “Welcome to this funny, complicated, rainy, friendly, passionate city.”

And another says: “Dear friends, here you will find a fortune made out of kind souls, warm smiles and supportive vibes.”

Many people have already donated Tunnock’s teacakes and caramel logs as one of the special Glasgow welcome items.

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The sweet treats are seen as a symbol of Glasgow after featuring prominently in the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony last year.

Boyd Tunnock, 82, the head of the Tunnock’s, pledged to donate two cases of teacakes to the cause.

He said: “I’m more than happy to help people arriving in this country feel welcome.

“It’s super that people are thinking of us as a symbol of Glasgow and something that they’re proud of sharing with newcomers.

“Whenever you go to a new country one of the first things you do is sample the local delicacies and that should be no different for the refugees arriving in Glasgow.

“Scotland has a proud history of immigration and it’s important to make them feel welcome.”