a decade of the scottish guardianship service: Pshtewan’s story


“It was so good, it was like a film. I said to them I cannot hold that Iraqi flag because I am Kurdish. So they surprised me with my own Kurdish flag which felt great.”

The flag ceremony at a residential holiday in Dumfriesshire with other young asylum seekers was a proud
moment for Pshtewan. It was also the first time he realised he was not alone.

“You feel like no one else can feel the same as you but when I saw the other guys in the same situation, I felt strong.”

Having travelled for eight months to reach Scotland at the age of 15, Pshtewan was terrified of being sent back to Iraq.

“It was so scary. I did a lot of hard things to get here. We didn’t have food, we didn’t have shelter. If they take me back there, they may kill me. There is not any safe place there for me.”

While it is his guardian’s job to help the young asylum seeker with lawyers, the Home Office, education and accommodation, Pshtewan doesn’t see his guardian as a worker. He thinks of Graeme as a friend.

“When I have Graeme with me, I feel safe. You feel good when you have someone with you.”

After two years in shared accommodation, the 18-year-old is moving into his own flat. He now has humanitarian protection, he enjoys worshipping at Glasgow’s Central Mosque, and hopes to study
psychology. His dream for the future is to be reunited with his family.

“My personal hopes are to find my family. Meet them again. If we can live together again, that’s all I want. After that, I can go through with any situation.”


Over the last ten years, nearly 700 asylum-seeking and trafficked children and young people have been supported by the Scottish Guardianship Service. The service is run by Aberlour Childcare Trust in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council.

© Photography by Robin Mitchel (robinmitchellphotography.com)