Child refugees are our Bairns

David Bradwell
David Bradwell and Rev Neil Galbraith.

The barriers of religion and culture are "no impediment" to working together to support refugees, a leading campaigner has said.

David Bradwell of the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees group said the stories of different faiths "inspire us to causes for peace".

He added that refugee support groups "share a belief that the dignity of every human person must be upheld and protected".

Mr Bradwell made the remarks at a special conference, attended by around 320 people, at the Scottish Parliament last night.

It was organised by the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society (SABS) and guest speakers included Rev Neil Galbraith, minister at Cathcart Old Parish Church in Glasgow and Gary Christie of the Scottish Refugee Council.

Communities and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance MSP, Margaret Tuite of the European Commission, Rose Fitzpatrick, a Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and Imam Razawi, director general of SABS, also addressed the audience.


The Scottish Parliament event was titled Exodus – A Modern Phenomenon and examined the impact of the mass displacement of people across the world.

Miss Constance said she was dismayed that the UK Government had scrapped a pledge to take in 3,500 unaccompanied child refugees.

“This is completely unacceptable, a country as rich as the UK should take many more than 350 vulnerable children,” she added.

“We must not stand by and see any child turned away and the plight of all unaccompanied children requires a bold and humane response.”

Miss Constance said ending the Dubs child refugee scheme was tantamount to abandonment.

“These are as much our bairns as those born to an indigenous Scottish family,” she added.

“Scotland stands ready to do more and the Scottish Government has urged the UK Government to reverse this shameful decision.”

Miss Constance said refugees added value to Scotland’s social, economic and culture life.

“They are people who have been forced to leave their homes to escape war and persecution,” she added.

“They have been through trauma that most of us would struggle to imagine.

“They should receive our understanding, compassion and respect.”


Church of Scotland congregations across the country have been in the vanguard of welcoming refugees and helping them to settle into their new communities.

Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR) is strongly supported by the Church.

Mr Bradwell said: “We acknowledge that there is an unfolding human catastrophe, and that there are immediate and viable steps that we can take to offer sanctuary to more refugees.

“We have been supported by the Scottish Government’s New Scots strategy for refugee integration.

"And as local neighbourhoods welcome more refugees over the coming years, the support and engagement of faith and community groups in ensuring that integration works for everyone will continue to be important.

“One project that we at Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees are currently running is an Edinburgh-based project called the Weekend Club.

“It is monthly gathering for refugees and new migrants to the city, a chance to meet and make friends on either a Saturday or Sunday."

Ms Constance and Rev Galbraith were in the audience listening to speeches.

Mr Bradwell said events have included a Burn’s Ceilidh in January and a visit to Edinburgh Castle last month.

He added that more events were planned over the coming year.


Mr Bradwell said: “One of the principles we are striving towards is that new Scots are not merely participants in activities but that they are involved in discussions, decisions and delivery.

“It is through people meeting people that attitudes and behaviours are changed.

“This helps to build mutual trust and respect, which creates the atmosphere needed where people can talk and work across barriers and differences of view for the common good.”

The parliamentary event was sponsored by Bill Kidd, MSP for Glasgow Anniesland.

Neil Galbraith
Rev Neil Galbraith