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Making space for multiculturalism with the Craigmillar Community Youth Group

Customer Story Craigmillar

Multiculturalism is becoming increasingly prevalent within the Communities we all call home, but providing a safe space for everyone to celebrate their own cultures while embracing others can be a much trickier task. However, the lively Craigmillar Community of Edinburgh has managed to achieve this with the help of two incredibly special Places for People Customers. 

Originally from Guinea-Bissau, Edviges and Emilio Lima set up the Multicultural Youth Group in our Craigmillar Community Hub in May 2022, and it's gone from strength to strength. The group now offers a range of workshops and activities that bring a real sense of celebration to the Community. 

The pair had previously lived in Portugal, where some of their family still reside, and found their move to Scotland in 2014 both eye-opening and welcoming. 

"When I first saw Edinburgh city centre, it was like stepping into Harry Potter," Edviges humorously explained. 

"You see, whenever you move to a new country, you must learn how to do the most basic tasks all over again, whether that's how to communicate, integrate into your Community, or even cross the road - it's all new. What we instantly loved about Scotland was how welcoming it was. From the shop assistants who helped us through initial language barriers to bus drivers just saying thank you – The UK felt like home - which was a very different experience from what we felt in other countries, where we felt much more segregation."  

Once Edviges and her family had settled into their new home, they received a leaflet from Connecting Craigmillar that bought a fun opportunity to make a difference in their new Community. 

"I remember receiving a leaflet  asking if we had any ideas or skills we wished to share with the Community. It was an excellent chance for us to get involved and share an idea I'd been thinking about for a while. 

"Both of us work within education, particularly with kids transitioning from primary to senior school, and we noticed that more issues around identity seemed to spring up during this challenging period. We thought this was a shame, as just by taking a short bus journey in this country, you're met with a beautiful range of languages, shops with cultural cuisines, and smells you may not have encountered before.

"This made us think, how could we teach children to be tolerant but celebratory of other people's cultures from an early age? That's where the idea for a youth group began, "she explained. 

The idea was simple yet incredibly impactful: they wanted to create a place where young people could make friends, take care of their mental and physical health, learn essential life skills, and, most importantly, have fun. Little did they know that their vision would evolve into a lively multicultural youth group that would attract many families and children to the Community. 

"When we contacted Places for People about our idea, a Community Coordinator came to our house to discuss our plan and suggested that he could connect us to a local space. Places for People kindly opened their doors to us and welcomed our ideas. They also helped us set up the club with funding from one of their suppliers, the St Teresa youth club, which took care of things like essential costs and staff time." 

Working in education, the two understood the structured nature of the school hours the children who attend their group experience, so they agreed that their space should allow kids to just be kids. Obviously, this provides the children with the chance to let off some steam but also allows the pair to approach some challenging topics in an approachable and fun way. 

"We offer a range of activities at the youth group designed to unlock the kids' potential and create the sense that we're all one Community. Our sports and games, like football, pool, and ping-pong, are designed to teach the children teamwork and break barriers. Creative outlets like music, crafts, and art help create a fun and safe environment for us to approach more complex subjects. 

"You'd be surprised how more willing kids are to talk about subjects like race, gender and sexuality during playtime. We've had many conversations with the children about topics like hair texture and beauty standards through a less structured conversation. We can explain unrealistic expectations that society sometimes puts on us and break down ideas of intolerance to empower them. 

"Personally, I love it when we play musical statues. We allow each child to have a turn being the DJ, so they get to pick their own song. It's a fantastic way of opening the children's eyes to unfamiliar cultures and tastes they might not have experienced otherwise," Edviges added. 

So, what does the future hold? 

"My partner and I have had the opportunity to attend a Community Development course at university. I'm in my second year, and he is in his first. We're really hoping this additional education will inspire us to expand our group and tackle the issues of discrimination on a larger scale. 

“Elsewhere, we’ve expanded into social media, through our Facebook and Instagram accounts, where a teach more about acceptance and inclusion in Portugues through my livestreams. 

"The future is full of possibilities, but we'd love to have our own charity one day to spread the message of tolerance even further!" 

We love Edviges and her partner's work within the Craigmillar Community, and we know the children and families they work with agree. Their determination to break down barriers around culture, race, gender, and sexuality to create a better, more tolerant world embodies our People Promises  of 'Do The Right Thing, Always' and 'Be Respectful, Earn Respect.'  

We can't wait to see what the future holds for this inspiring family and the generation of children they're uplifted. 

Read more heart-warming stories from our Customers and People

We hope you found this story inspirational. If you would like to read more stories from around the Places for People organisation, check out more of our In My Own Words stories.  

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