Scottish Parliament recognition for church asylum seeker project leader

A woman who spent nearly 20 years helping asylum seekers and refugees adapt to life in Glasgow has been recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

Christine Murray has been hailed as the "voice of the voiceless" for her efforts as project manager of a community outreach scheme at St Rollox Church in Sighthill.

Cross-party MSPs have backed a motion lodged at Holyrood which commends her "extraordinary service" in supporting people to rebuild their lives after being forced to flee from war-ravaged countries such as Bosnia and Iraq.

It praises Mrs Murray's role in guiding a team of 20 people who have provided English lessons, clothing, food and financial support to people on the margins of society since 2002.

The motion wishes the 66-year-old all the best for the future following her retirement after 19-years of "inspirational and purposeful years" of service.

Changing lives

It was lodged by Bob Doris, MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn.

He said: "It was a privilege to be able to recognise in parliament Christine's extraordinary service and dedication to supporting asylum seekers and refugees in north Glasgow over almost two decades.

"As the project manager she has supported an exceptional group of volunteers within the fantastic St Rollox Church's community outreach programme in Sighthill.

"Christine has inspired others and changed many lives for the better.

"I suspect she would be the first to play down her achievements and point to the work of the wider team over many years.

"However, she rightly deserves this recognition and her legacy will live on in the lives of the families who have been supported and the continued work of Rev Jane Howitt and the volunteers at St Rollox Church."

Caring city

Mrs Murray of Leven in Fife said the community project would not have been successful if it wasn't for the volunteers.

"I am very grateful for the recognition of the work which we were all involved in and that I was privileged to lead," she added.

Speaking after she retired last month, Mrs Murray said she thoroughly enjoyed her "interesting, challenging, fun and humbling" role.

"It has never been just a job for me though and it has been a privilege to be part of St Rollox which has impacted on the lives of thousands of people in some way over the years," she explained.

Mrs Murray said Glasgow has become a cosmopolitan city due to the number of people from conflict zones around the world seeking refuge and at one point there were around 3,000 asylum seekers in the north of the city.

"Glasgow's reputation as the caring city is well earned but at first there was a bit of suspicion and unease as to why all these people were coming here," she added.

"But as Glaswegians got to know their new neighbours and started to ask questions and got to hear their personal stories and the trauma they had endured, they began to understand what they had been through and wanted to help.

"That has been our ethos at the project - we have laughed with people, cried with them and we have been there for them."

St Rollox Church
St Rollox Church has a very diverse congregation with 85% of members born outwith the UK.

St Rollox Church is the most diverse congregation within the Church with 85% of members born outwith the UK.

Rev Jane Howitt

Ms Howitt said: "We were delighted that Bob Doris tabled a parliamentary motion, recognising Christine Murray.

"Over the years she has been a voice for the voiceless in the north of Glasgow, whether that has been for those seeking asylum or those whom poverty has disenfranchised.

"She has been a lifeline to many who found themselves in the depths of despair.

"Her faith always shone through, as did her sense of humour and as a result she was able to hold together a wide ethnically diverse team of volunteers."

Ms Howitt said the community outreach work at St Rollox will continue under the new leadership of Karen Prenty.

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