A GRASSROOTS craft organisation for refugees and asylum seekers has won a major award.
Paisley-based Sewing2gether All Nations picked up the Scotland gong in the UK-wide Creative Lives Awards. The group was set up to help refugees and asylum seekers practise English and build new friendships.
It began with just two volunteers in 2018 and now has six sessional workers, 10 volunteers and around 80 members participating in its activities each year.
A spokesperson said they were delighted with their win.
“We are ‘New Scots’ originating from many countries across the world, from Afghanistan to Venezuela that meets to sew, create and practise English,” she said. “It is wonderful to receive an award for something that we love so much to do.”
Runner-up for the Scotland award was the Scottish Borders’ Newstead News which serves one of the most rurally remote regions of the country. Initially a small A4 flyer started during the pandemic, the paper has since grown and now features writing and photography from over 100 contributors, with more joining all the time.
Editor Lisa Cowan said: “On behalf of everyone who creates the Newstead News, we’re thrilled to have been announced as the Scottish Runners-up for a Creative Lives Award. Who would have thought that a simple leaflet produced at the start of the pandemic would quickly evolve into a colourful, 20-page magazine entirely written and produced by our community.
“This award belongs to everyone in Newstead, but especially the 100 or so people who have been involved with everything from writing stories to making deliveries. It’s rewarding to see our small village making such a big impact.”
Glasgow-based African and Caribbean Elders in Scotland, (ACES) won the Celebrating Diversity Award. Founded in 2019 it began as an online group for people aged 60 and above and now has members from all over the country with membership steadily growing. In-person events have been added to the online meetings.
“We are above all are a friendly group where African and Caribbean Elders living in Scotland come together to celebrate shared cultural heritage and create a space of support, belonging and friendship,” said a spokesperson.
“ACES as a group feel extremely honoured to learn that we have been chosen as a winner and to receive such an important award from Creative Lives Awards. We are grateful for the recognition of our community work.”
Scotland’s Minister for Culture Neil Gray said: “The winners of the Scotland Creative Lives Award for 2022, Sewing2gether All Nations, are a wonderful example of the welcoming nation Scotland is, providing help and support for members of the refugee and asylum seeker community while drawing on Scotland’s rich textile history.
“Secondly, the winners of the Celebrating Diversity Award, African and Caribbean Elders in Scotland – who have been chosen from all of the entries across the UK and Ireland – are providing a space for African and Caribbean over-60s living in Scotland to connect, share experiences and celebrate their heritage and culture. I’d like to thank all of the shortlisted entrants, including the Scottish runners up Newstead News, for the work they do throughout the year using their creativity to bring people together.”
Robin Simpson, chief executive of Creative Lives added: “It is truly amazing what volunteer-led creative groups achieve within their communities, overcoming challenges with ingenuity, determination, goodwill and volunteer effort to provide inspiring, life-enhancing experiences for local people.
“The stories behind the Creative Lives Awards are moving, surprising, joyful and genuinely uplifting. At a time when people face so many difficulties Creative Lives is proud to celebrate the remarkable creative activities taking place in almost every local community that demonstrate how creativity helps us to find a way to make things better.”