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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Refugees learn Glasgow 'patter'
Citizens Advice Bureau office
The training will help the group interact better with the public
A group of asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland are to be schooled in Glaswegian "patter", enabling them to work in local branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

In a first for the UK, the multi-national group will be put to work as volunteers in Maryhill.

But training on how to understand the local dialect will come before they are sent out to face the public.

A total of 13 people will take part in the 100,000 project.

Maryhill Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) manager Jean Cheyne said: "If someone comes and tells them they've been 'barred fae the burroo', it's important they understand what they mean."

Maw (mother)
Missus (wife)
Soshal (Department of Work and Pensions)
Giro (benefit payment)
Leccy (electricity)
Skint (no money)
Messages (shopping)

The group comprises 11 volunteers from Sierra Leone, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda, along with two administration workers from Russia and Turkey.

Ms Cheyne added: "Since 2002, asylum seekers are no longer able to work whilst waiting for a decision on their claim, so volunteering at the CAB would enable them to gain valuable work experience.

"We know the expertise is there - up to 80% of the refugees we see as clients are professionals such as doctors, teachers, accountants and bankers.

"The majority of the refugees and asylum seekers are more than willing and happy to enter into voluntary work. They see it as a way of paying back what they have received since arriving here."

'Big change'

Volunteer Sai Said, a child counsellor from Burundi, believes having asylum seekers in the CAB office will help them integrate and will also benefit the local Glaswegian population.

She said: "People have a fear of the unknown, but hopefully this will help us all understand a bit more about each other.

"I had no choice about where in the UK I was to come, but if I can stay then Glasgow is where I want to be.

"In the two years I have been here, I have a seen a big change in local attitudes and I believe Glaswegians are making us feel very welcome."

She added: "When you are an asylum seeker you lose your dignity, but when someone believes in you and gives you a chance to prove you are good at something, then you regain that dignity."

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