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New tartan celebrates refugees in Scotland



The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) has partnered with Slanj Kilts to create a unique tartan to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of Scottish communities as refugees settle and integrate.

The concept began when Brian Halley, the founder and owner of Slanj Kilts, approached SRC about creating a custom tartan as he was inspired by the refugees who work at his manufacturing warehouse in Glasgow.

Slanj Kilts has a long history of creating tartans for a wide range of charities, which have covered social issues from homelessness to mental health.

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Halley’s proposal was an opportunity that Lauren Turriani, fundraising officer for SRC, said was something they were very excited to collaborate on.

Speaking about the process behind creating the SRC tartan, Turriani said: “We shared with him (Halley) some of our colours we would normally use, and he was just amazing.

“He had loads of ideas for designs and concepts.

“There were a lot of options, but we managed to whittle them down, and picked the one we have obviously gone along with.”

Turriani said the tartan was a great way to symbolise how refugees become an important part of our society, and the collaboration successfully represented the charities values.

She said: “The story behind the tartan is that the chosen colours are intended to symbolise the vibrancy and diversity of Scotland’s communities as refugees settle here and build their lives in Scotland.

“A general story behind the tartan is kind of us trying to represent our refugees and their integration into Scotland, showing how they become part of the fabric of society and in our communities.

“Brian and all of Slanj have been amazing for taking all of this on board and making this absolutely beautiful tartan out of those ideas.”

The money raised through the tartan will go towards unrestricted funding, which means it can go towards any projects or any people who may urgently need it. SRC helps support thousands of men, women, and children as they rebuild their lives in Scotland.

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It offers direct support and advice services, promotes community integration, and stands up for refugee rights while campaigning for a fairer, more humane asylum system.

Some of the refugees that SRC have helped settle in Scotland are workers at Slanj Kilts, and are part of the reason why Halley wanted to work with the charity.

The kilt company owner stated that people who come to Scotland seeking refuge have skill sets that not many Scottish people have, and that refugees’ lived experiences are valuable. 

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He said: “I approached the refugee council in the first place, as I said that is something I’m interested in trying to help, and because we have staff from there.

“The idea of all these skilful people coming into Scotland, a lot of skills we don’t necessarily have in Scotland, we have lost a lot of the manufacturing skills, so we are actually on the lookout for people who are refugees, and we can give them jobs.

“The idea was we would get them involved in the tartan making which is something we are still working on at the moment.”

SRC launched the tartan by having a ceilidh at Strathclyde at the start of April where they auctioned the first-ever kilt made in the custom design.

Slanj donated the kilt to the charity to help launch their collaboration.

Along with the kilt, there are two ties made in the custom tartan, one which belongs to chief executive of SRC Sabir Zazai, and another one that was gifted to Humza Yousaf.

Zazai said the tartan is a great way to symbolise diversity and also friendship among refugees and Scottish communities.

The National: The Scottish Refugee Council’s chief executive Sabir Zazai posing with one of the ties

He said: “We are delighted with our new registered tartan.

“The vibrant colours in the design represent the diverse communities and cultures which enrich Scotland every day.

“Wearing the tartan is a show of solidarity with people who have travelled here seeking safety.

“With divisive politics constantly in the news, this show of friendship is a reminder that refugees will always be welcome here.”

Zazai and his fellow members of the refugee charity will be taking part in the Kilt Walk this weekend, sporting the tie while helping to raise money.

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