Standing Tall Stories – Celebrating Refugee Week 2022


By Stefan Smith – Participation Officer, Scottish Refugee Council

Standing Tall Stories provides spaces for young refugees to be creative, get involved with art and make friends. This project is part of the long-standing partnership between the Scottish Guardianship Service and Standing Tall Arts. As part of Refugee Festival Scotland and in celebration of Refugee Week internationally, many young people from the Guardianship Service have been working with artists to produce an interesting and diverse range of creative stories through different mediums. 


The three main strands to Standing Tall Stories are photography, filmmaking and rap. Becky Duncan from Open Eye brought photography equipment to a group night, allowing young people to play around and familiarise themselves with the camera’s different features. This was an opportunity to test out the equipment, have fun with their friends and create memories. After this introduction, a group visited Pollok Country Park’s woodland area, exploring nature’s calmness through photography. The approach fosters positive wellbeing while being creative and connecting with the surroundings. 


Another group has been working with Zayn Samadi, a 21-year-old film student from Glasgow University who was a part of Guardianship as a teenager. Zayn was Director of Photography for last year’s Standing Tall Arts and Guardianship collaborative film, ‘Landed’. The young people were given film challenges, including filming fast-moving objects with a gimble so they could experience how filmmakers can capture footage for the big screen. Zayn is introducing the young people to the art of filmmaking and video production, exploring the technical and artistic skills required for projects such as social media campaigns or advertising. 


And last but not least is Peter Masambuku, aka PAQUE, a Congolese-born Glasgow rapper and songwriter. PAQUE introduced the young people to the craft of songwriting, teaching his tips and tricks to find rhymes and construct bars with flow. Through their lyrics, the young people have explored themes around the daily pressures of life and their motivation to succeed. 


The project’s culmination was during a Refugee Week event, where all the different creative projects were exhibited for the young people in Guardianship to enjoy. The event showcased the work we made in the workshops, with food catered from Afro-Fusion Cuisine, as well as music from The Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra (GABO). GABO previously ran a drumming workshop with the young people. Their music combines storytelling with a diverse range of musical sounds. The event was a chance for everyone in Guardianship to have fun and celebrate the extraordinary creative talents of the young people!   


This event was supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.