From Syria to Scotland

A 12-minute documentary, focusing on the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Bute, has been produced by a Manchester doctor.
A 12-minute documentary, focusing on the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Bute, has been produced by a Manchester doctor.

A video featuring the story of one of Bute's Syrian families has been produced by a Manchester doctor, keen to redress what she describes as 'manipulative' stories in the mainstream media.

Dr Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar is a medical doctor living in Manchester. The 12-minute documentary forms part of her Masters in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response at the University of Manchester.

Shameela also spoke to local residents David Hanschell, and Helen and Tommy Howat for their perspective on the resettlement of the families to Bute.

Shameela explains: "I have been working with Syrian refugees both inside and out of Syria over the last five years having travelled on several aid convoys to the region and worked in field hospitals including those in Aleppo. This previous experience in the humanitarian sector helped me to understand exactly where the Bute families were coming from and what their arduous journey to the island entailed.

"I wanted the film to firstly humanise these people as they are often simply referred to as statistics in the media and secondly, to challenge what many right wing media organisations were printing about the refugees, manipulating stories to fit into the Brexit agenda.

"My own experience of Bute has been amazing. My experience of Scottish hospitality has always been one of positivity, warm welcomes and huge breakfasts! Bute's islanders did not disappoint!

"I have visited the island three times in the making of the film. Each experience [was] rich in meeting new people, new faces and the quiet buzz of opinion, town talk and rumour adds to the character of a place that locks you in time from the business of mainland life.

"I hope the film is a much more accurate representation of island life with the refugees and hope to expand this project in the future as time goes on. Life may not be perfect for the refugees or the islanders at the current set up, but it certainly isn't anywhere near as bleak as shoddy journalism would have you believe.

"Let's focus on the positivity and common ground that unites everyone and concentrate on initiatives that promote community cohesion.

"I hope this film is just one small step in facilitating that cohesion. Connecting two families during the film was one of the main highlights of it."

To view Shameela's video, 'From Syria to Scotland', click here.