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Positively Diverse report from Pilton

February 17, 2016

Living in Harmony ‘Positively Diverse’ is an event report about bringing people together for a ‘learning event’ to explore how people might work “towards a more inclusive north Edinburgh” The event took place in October 2015. 

The report describes some of the methods used to explore this theme. E.g. a local Palestinian poet reciting a poem in Arabic “to provide a small insight into how it feels to step into an unknown language or culture.”

Pilton Community Health Project has previously identified the needs of local BME people in two previous reports: Living in Harmony and Talking about our Health but it was felt “that much more change is needed” PCHP logoso to “amplify the voices of residents” three local people from the BME community were invited to speak directly to organisations at the event. Their testimony of their experiences reinforced the previous findings, namely:

  • Difficulty finding out about what is going on or how ‘the system works’
  • Language barriers to services and integration
  • Feeling ‘left out’
  • Barriers to employment
  • Difficulties due to waiting for immigration decisions

The event also looked at best practice from local organisations this ranged from the local football Academy being more proactive in trying to recruit from the BME community to the local primary care group changing their registration system to allow more time to guide people through and providing double appointment times when interpreters are needed.
Dr Giovanna Fassetta from the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network also spoke at the event. Her theme was ‘Intercultural meetings – the rewards of stepping outside your comfort zone’.  She used a simple but effective example to engage her audience in her theme by asking people to consider where they stored their jam and eggs! Thus illustrating “Our common and everyday practices are not given or correct.” Her session is summarised under the heading Dealing with Difference and the following bullet points

  • Difference is a normal part of life
  • Difference is ordinary
  • Fear of difference is a greater problem than difference itself
  • The fear is rooted in an ‘expert’ model of culture.

In conclusion Dr Fassetta said “So you don’t need to be an expert to be able to respect different culture and understand diversity. What you have to do is relax, be curious, be open – and ask. Ask questions, Yes, you may feel uncomfortable at first but these feelings can be overcome – and that can make you grow as a person.”
The document contains links to presentations and the previous research documents and is available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/LivinginHarmonyEdinburgh. You can read the full event report here.

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