Scottish Interfaith Week

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The Welcoming: Supporting New Scots to live sustainably and take climate action in Edinburgh

The Welcoming supports refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants to feel at home in their new communities. The Edinburgh based charity supports New Scots to learn English, find jobs and access local services, offering opportunities for friendship and sustainable living.

Climate change is one of The Welcoming’s key areas of work. Through the project ‘Welcoming a Greener Future’, funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, the organisation enables New Scots to engage in positive climate action and help Scotland reduce carbon emissions.

Welcoming a Greener Future Programme Manager, Chiara Puppi said:

“Our climate change work supports transition to a fair and sustainable, low-carbon society by providing advice, workshops and awareness on climate change, home energy savings, food sustainability and waste reduction, in a tailored and easy to understand way.”

Building a green community with New Scots and locals

Since 2015, the project has engaged over 2,000 migrants and refugees (including 120 newly arrived Syrian refugee families) living in Edinburgh with climate action, generating an average of 107 tonnes of CO2e savings per year.

The project also offers a volunteering programme for both locals and New Scots, with the aim to build climate resilience within the community. To date, the project has worked with over 100 volunteers, with an average of 200 hours of volunteering per year.

“We believe our work has positively changed the lives and behaviours of the communities that we are working with by encouraging and supporting them to act on environmental issues.”

Cooking classes, home food growing and the community demonstration garden

The Welcoming supports participants to reduce the environmental impact of their eating habits through cooking sessions, food sustainability workshops and home food growing.

The home food growing programme provides participants with initial food growing supplies, regular guidance and access to monthly online green skills meetings.

“Last year our home food growing programme helped 23 families to start and develop their own food growing garden at home.”

The organisation’s community demonstration garden also provides participants and volunteers the opportunity to learn about food growing, share green skills and traditions from their home countries, while spending quality time outdoors.

“Our community demonstration garden continues to bring us joy and lots of delicious produce. Last growing season, we harvested 49kg of fresh veg that was donated to Broomhouse Hub Space Kitchen to make community meals.”

Developing climate literacy and the Syrian Resettlement Programme

The Welcoming works in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to support families arriving in Edinburgh as part of the Syrian Resettlement Programme to live sustainably.

They support Syrian families to apply for the Warm Home Discount, register new tenancies, submit meter readings, switch energy suppliers and make appointments to install SMART meters.

“Often arriving directly from refugee camps, with limited financial resources and English language skills, our participants are entirely unfamiliar with local systems, such as home energy, recycling and food growing. The lack of information they have access to, together with the language barrier, directly affects their ability to settle comfortably and affordably in their new homes, and take an active role in reducing Scotland’s carbon emissions.

“Through our work, we aim to address these issues by offering opportunities for a positive, healthy and sustainable active lifestyle in Scotland.”

Climate action: How to get involved

At Scottish Interfaith Week, we are delighted to be able to shine a light on the climate work of The Welcoming. We believe climate action is important for people of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures to get involved with and that the work being done to spread climate awareness is key to the survival of our planet.

If you would like to find out more about the work of The Welcoming, you can visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If this story has inspired you to take your own climate action, then why not consider hosting an event for Scottish Interfaith Week 2021, perhaps an online cooking class or a climate literacy workshop? The theme this year is Together for Our Planet and we are encouraging individuals and organisations across Scotland to host climate-related events.

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