Celebrating our New Scots leaders is always a joyous occasion, and this year was no different!

At Civic House on Saturday 11th May, refugee community leaders in Scotland came together to celebrate their graduation from the New Scots Leadership Programme, which we run in partnership with Social Enterprise Academy.

Over six months, the group met twice-monthly in Glasgow to hone their existing leadership skills, gain new perspectives and connect with other leaders in Scotland.

On Saturday, friends, family, former graduates and supporters came together in droves to celebrate the achievements of the group. The sun was shining, the food (delivered by Soul Food Sisters) delicious, and the atmosphere: JOYful.

The power of joy

The power of joy felt all the more poignant this year, amidst a backdrop of looming deportations, chaos and hostility. To come together and celebrate the achievements of such a diverse, talented group of individuals was powerful, emotional, and beautiful. Joy is resistance.

Our hosts for the day – Isaac and Zabi, both graduates from the programme – led us expertly through the day and introduced our guest speakers.

First up, our CEO Sabir Zazai reflected on his own leadership journey and thanked everyone involved in making the programme possible, leaving us with the poignant words “for me, every refugee journey is a leadership journey.”

Dr Esa Aldegheri then reflected on what it meant to be celebrating together, today. All of the challenges that people faced in their journey to be together in this room, celebrating themselves and each other. Joy as defiance. Celebration as hope. Community as power.

Celebrating our leaders

Buoyed by her moving words, the graduation ceremony began, with cheers echoing around the room for each participant as they stepped up to receive their certificate. One who has set up her own charity as a result of what she’s learned in the workshops, another who has been offered new employment, a third who successfully completed the programme despite very limited English language. Tears of joy were shed, cheers of laughter, “congratulations” in many different tongues and dialects.

Workshop facilitators, Roy and Fatima, expressed their joy in running the programme, and thanked the Leaders for giving it their all.

The resounding voices – Welcome. Keep going. Don’t give up. Anything is possible.

On a sunny day in Glasgow, it’s what we all needed.


Many graduates will now go on to complete a ‘Certificate in Leadership’ qualification from the Social Enterprise Academy and Glasgow Caledonian University.

We wish all graduates all the best and can’t wait to see what you do next!


Image Copyright: Open Aye

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah