Ten artists and activists from refugee and other migrant backgrounds will receive funding and practical support as part of our Cross Borders mentoring programme.

We’re delighted to welcome a new cohort of creatives and community activists to Cross Borders Mentoring. This year, the group includes visual artists and activists, a writer, a filmmaker, a photojournalist, a musician and a community organiser.

Each person in the programme will be paired with an established mentor who will share knowledge and experience and provide valuable guidance, support and encouragement. They will also receive a grant of £1,200 to support their professional and creative development.

Cross Borders is a programme of arts and cultural activism projects, led by Scottish Refugee Council, which supports artists and activists affected by forced migration. Many of the people we work with have fled places where censorship made it impossible for them to express themselves creatively.

Visit our new Cross Borders digital platform to find out more.

Meet the artists

Meray Diner

Meray is a Cypriot filmmaker based in Glasgow. With the support of her mentor, she plans to explore sharing stories about inspiring people from immigrant backgrounds.

“I want to produce work in which migrant characters are in the main roles. I want to focus on untold journeys that can be emotional and funny, and ordinary or extraordinary stories in Scotland.”

Elhan Afzal

Elhan is an Afghan storyteller and photojournalist, currently living in the Glasgow.

His work has been published in The Times, By The Lines, Action on Armed Violence, Daily Beast and Open Democracy.

Elhan is looking forward to making new connections in Scotland and getting new equipment so he can begin working on new stories.


Yamamah Salam

Iraqi artist Yamamah Salam tells the stories of women's struggles through her workIraqi artist Yamamah, hopes to develop new skills in digital art and design.

“Pursuing a Fine Art degree wasn’t feasible in Iraq, but my move to Scotland allowed me to embark on this artistic path. Now, I’m devoted to expressing myself and telling important stories through my artwork. 

“In a world that often demands conformity, I find solace in my role as an artist and storyteller who speaks for those whose voices may otherwise go unheard. I’ve witnessed the struggles women face first hand. Through my art, I strive to encapsulate the essence of women – their strength, resilience, and unyielding ambition for securing their rights.”

Anna Molodtsova

Ukrainian author Anna Molodtsova is working on a fantasy feminist novelAnna is a Ukrainian author who is currently living in North Ayrshire after fleeing the war against Ukraine.

She has written 11 novels, 19 short stories and 15 fairy tales in her native tongue.

With the support of her mentor, Anna hopes to translate some of her writing into English. She is currently working on a fantasy feminist novel


Huss Al-Chokhdar

Performance artist HUSS uses his work to raise awareness of the plight of LGBTQ+ people in the Arab worldGlasgow-based performance and visual artist HUSS combines installation, sculpture, visuals and audio to create immersive performance pieces.

He uses his work as a queer person of colour to raise awareness about issues facing artists like himself in the Arab world. HUSS plans to work with his mentor to explore and develop his practice and brainstorm ideas for newly commissioned work. 

Fatou Gitteh

Community organiser Fatou Gitteah helps women resist the hostile envioronment Fatou is a mother, grandmother and activist who has lived with precarious immigration status for over 15 years.

As a founding member of Ubuntu Women’s Shelter, Fatou uses care and kindness to resist the hostile environment and change lives.

She is influenced and inspired by the women who hold our communities together but are often hidden, marginalised and unheard.

Fatou is looking forward to working with her mentor to learn from other community organisers and develop new habits to help direct care inwards while working with others.

Seif Eddine Jlassi

Artist and cultural activist Seif Eddine Jlassi hopes to engage with local communitiesWith the support of his mentor, artist and cultural activist Seif, will engage with cultural programmes in local communities and establish connections with other artists.

“This grant will make a significant difference to my practice by providing me with the opportunity to enhance my skills in community engagement and outreach. With the funding, I will be able to organise workshops, interactive sessions, and collaborative activities targeting public and cultural spaces, community centres, and organisations.”

Oleksandra Novatska

Oleksandra Novastska is a watercolour painter and illustrator who came to Scotland after fleeing the war against UkraineOlexsandra is a professional artist and illustrator specialising in watercolours and pencil drawings.

She is currently living in Dumfries after fleeing the war against Ukraine.

She hopes to work with her mentor to create new connections in Scotland and develop new themes for her work.


Midya Jan

Kurdish musician Midya Jan likes to sing in several different languagesKurdish musician Midya, is drawn to both contemporary, and traditional folk music from Iran and Kurdistan.

She will work with her mentor to develop her recording skills, manage bookings and budgets and link with potential collaborators to develop new music.

“Music is my passion. I sing in several languages, including Arabic, Persian and various Kurdish dialects.”

Cross Borders

The Cross Borders programme includes events, workshops, mentoring, commissions and collaborations with artists, activists and cultural practitioners from refugee and other migrant backgrounds. We advocate for the rights, care and protection of artists and activists and we help creatives to make connections, collaborate and exchange knowledge and ideas.

Cross Borders is for anyone with a creative or cultural practice who has sought refugee protection or been forcibly displaced and is currently living in Scotland. These practices can include – but are not limited to – visual arts, curation, artistic production, music, performance, cooking, dance, literature, design, journalism, cultural heritage and community engagement.

We support people who were already working in these areas before coming to Scotland. We also work with people who weren’t able to pursue their practice in their home country.

Visit our new digital platform for the latest news on projects, resources, opportunities and upcoming events.

Cross Borders in generously supported by Comic Relief Change Makers.

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb