LILAC conference. Pam writes:
"Dr Konstatina Martzoukou from Robert Gordon University spoke about her Information Literacy Group funded project Syrian Scots information literacy way-finding practices: phase 1 research findings. The presentation focuses on the findings from a research project with Syrian refugees who refer to themselves as "new Scots". The participants who arrived in Scotland have come from refugee camps in Syria and have protected status for 5 years while they gain Scottish citizenship. They are entitled to specialist support and services e.g. housing, welfare, health, education integration etc. It is Important that the service providers understand the (information) needs of the new Scots, and help them become active contributors to society.
"The aim of the project was to examine the information related experiences and information literacy practices of Syrian refugees. 2 Syrian refugees offices, 9 Syrian men, 9 Syrian men and 1 volunteer took part in focus group and interviews.
"All new Scots received ESOL [English as a Second Language] classes and a welcome pack with basic information. In addition there was a 24 hour Arabic helpline and an interpreting service. A variety of support information was created e.g. credit card sized flash cards that could be used with GPS, and a what's app group facilitated by volunteer interpreters. Most participants were heavy users of mobile phones (rather than computers) and found the whatsapp group very useful, and also services such as google translate.
"Drawings were collected from participants, which showed that learning English was one of the main barriers to integration, and the language was linked to self confidence, health, wellbeing and employment opportunities. People were worried about the future, and were concerned about displaced family members.
"Service providers were concerned about the 'right' time to provide information, as when people were new arrivals they were not in the right frame of mind to understand all the new information.
"Scottish public libraries are looking to develop their support for wellbeing, for all members of the community. As part of this they are developing services particularly aimed at Syrian new Scots, e.g. children's books in Arabic. A programme of peer education has been developed where groups of newly arrived refugees meet with facilitators and those who have been there longer to develop their language skills.
"Project blog: https://syrian-information-literacy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/first-report-to-information-literacy.html "
Photo by Pam McKinney: Swansea, 2017