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Could Talking Mats help support refugees?

Stirling Council hosted a meeting this morning (2nd October) to discuss Stirling’s response to the Syrian refugees crisis. It was a great meeting with good speakers outlining the Scottish response and also the Stirling response to welcoming families from the refugee camps. There were about 150 people in the hall buzzing with ideas and we were given plenty of time to discuss in groups our thoughts and ideas.

One of the key issues overlying those such as housing, education, health, faith and community support was communication. How we can help people whose first language is not English and who may also have difficulty expressing themselves because of trauma?

Already there have been responses from translation services, the local Islamic Centre and the University. Another possibility is the use of Talking Mats to help people consider their options and express their views. We have used Talking Mats in other situations where English was not a first language, for example in clinical situations with Polish patients and also in our work in China a few years ago. We found that once the person understood the basic structure of Talking Mats we were able to communicate amazingly well. We have a number of symbol resources that might be helpful and, as a social enterprise, are keen to offer our services.

Like everyone in this morning’s meeting, we look forward to welcoming and supporting the Syrian families who are coming to Stirling.