Unique photography project helps refugees and migrants settle in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Napier students team up with The Welcoming Association

Date posted

15 December 2016


Last updated

15 May 2020

An innovative project between Edinburgh Napier University and a charity that provides support for refugees and migrants has seen photography play a part in helping newcomers settle in the city.

Daniella Faccenda, Sam Finch and Kirsty McLachlan, all final year students from the University’s BA (Hons) Photography programme, have collaborated with city-based The Welcoming in a social project aimed at helping a group of 10 participants capture their first experiences of living in Edinburgh. 

The students worked with individuals receiving support from the charity to develop their photography skills by exploring the city and surrounding area to take snaps of various landmarks including Saughton Rose Gardens, The Royal Botanic Gardens, The Scottish Parliament and Arthur’s Seat. 

Alongside giving the students valuable teaching and project management experience, the project also aimed to help those involved learn more about the city in an effort to eradicate any fears they may have had regarding their move. 

The participants, who were all from a range of countries including Columbia, Spain, Turkey, Sudan, Argentina and Brazil, were encouraged to use what they had captured to help them convey what moving to the city had meant to them and to share personal stories of being new to both the city and Scotland as a whole. 

Discussions on the change in culture, the language barrier, interactions with people and even the weather were all stimulated through the project, helping individuals form new friendships alongside finding common ground in the group’s experiences so far. 

The photographs from the project will be exhibited to the public within the University’s Merchiston campus from tonight (14 December) for a week, before being moved permanently to the charity’s headquarters on Westfield Avenue. 

Lindsay Morgan, placement co-ordinator within Edinburgh Napier’s School of Arts and Creative Industries and who was involved with The Welcoming project, said: “The project was created as an opportunity for community engagement and a chance for our students to gain real pedagogical and project management experience. Language barriers and social isolation are common amongst refugees and migrants and by creating a visual record, we hoped to transcend these barriers. 

“Over the past few years, our photography programme has organised several volunteer projects for students and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to work on another great project with a local charity that carries out so much fantastic work within our city. The benefits really have been felt by all those involved.”

The Welcoming supports refugees and migrants in Edinburgh, with over 1,000 people from 60 different nationalities benefitting from its range of classes, activities and workshops each year. Its aim is to help Scotland benefit from the diversity, experiences and talents that its participants bring.

Elaine Mowat, deputy director of The Welcoming, said: “The project has been an amazing opportunity for our participants to learn new skills, explore the city from new perspectives and benefit from the expertise and enthusiasm of the Edinburgh Napier students. This is exactly the kind of experience that helps newcomers feel welcome and included, and to see Edinburgh as a place where they can succeed in building an exciting new life. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the University and really appreciate all the support that its School of Arts & Creative Industries has provided.”

Thanks to participants Yina Garcia, Zulma Vargas, Geovanni Tonin and Isabel Vaqueriza Rodriguez for use of their photographs.