Cycling along the Water of Leith


This year stands out for the opportunities we have had to grow and diversify our activities. From English lessons and employability, to singing and cycle rides, the common thread is helping newcomers to settle in Scotland and improve their quality of life here.

ESOL Programme
22 classes each week from Complete Beginners to Advanced to help English language learners gain vital skills for everyday life in Edinburgh.

  • ‘I love the teachers, the amazing and kindly teachers!’
  • ‘The Welcoming is the perfect place to improve your language skills starting from the basics and develop day by day confidence in yourself.’
  • ‘When I landed, I didn’t understand anything but now thanks to the Welcoming, I’ve started speaking. It’s a new beginning.’

Welcoming Friendship
1-1 and group befriending activities to help people make friends and feel at home in Edinburgh.

  • ‘J visits me, our children play and we talk. I love our children play together.’
  • ‘I don’t feel so out of place here because I’ve got a local friend.’
  • ‘T showed me how to shape balls of couscous. We also had a deep discussion about the pros and cons of both our cultures which helped me understand aspects of their culture more.’
  • ‘S is not just my befriender, she is my friend.’

Welcoming a Greener Future
Home energy efficiency, reuse and upcycling activities, workshops and community events to help save carbon omissions and tackle climate change.

  • ‘I did not know enough about the recycling system in my area until I was visited by the Welcoming’s staff. I am now able to recycle most of my waste.’
  • ‘The activity was surely informative, it made me think about my own recycling practices. I would suggest this activity to other people and will absolutely take actions as a result of the visit.’
  • ‘I had a great time in the sessions and did and learned so much – from making clothes to organising a fashion show and working with people from different parts of the world, I did things I didn’t know I was able to do.’
  • ‘The home visit has made such a difference for me. Adil explained everything very clearly to me and shared lots of good tips. It turned out that my energy company was overcharging me because I was not submitting meter readings at all. Once I submitted my meter readings with help from the Welcoming, my direct debit went down from £70 to £40 per month for both gas and electricity. This is great.’

Welcoming a Warmer Home
Practical advice and creative workshops to support people with keeping cosy and comfortable at home at an affordable price.

  • ‘We’ve now changed some of the household habits and I’m sure the next bills won’t be as big.’ (Home energy efficiency visit feedback)
  • ‘Very useful and dynamic visit. This type of session should be compulsory, that way we would all know how to keep warm and comfortable.’ (Home energy efficiency visit feedback)
  • ‘Useful, amazing, good, smile :-)’ (Energy efficiency workshop feedback)

Employability and Business Guidance
Employability and business support to help people find jobs and set up businesses that match their skills and talents.

  • ‘The advice and info received made me feel more comfortable and more confident, gave a confirmation that I did all that had to be done to get a job (and that came in a moment when there was nobody around to encourage me).’
  • ‘Each time we meet (looking for jobs, doing application, etc.) was a constructive moment. Leon help me to feel more confident and to stop my auto-destruction mechanism about my career plan. In two hours I had progress more than in two months.’
  • ‘It’s not easy to get a job in my profession – it’s a very competitive industry, but thanks to Leon and his help I got a few interviews and I was really close to getting a very good job. Without his help I even couldn’t get any reply when I was applying for a job. He encourages me very much not to give up and we’re still working together on another applications. His help is absolutely priceless for me.’

Syrian Resettlement Programme
ESOL and cultural integration activities to support the newly arrived Syrian community in Edinburgh.

  • ‘The Welcoming has very positive impact on people’s lives, especially the Syrian community. The majority of people come here with lots of worries and bad experiences and uncertainty and then they immediately connect with the Welcoming. They find Welcoming staff supportive and they feel much happier and able to deal with their issues. They know where to go if they need support and that makes a big difference for them.’
    Mohamad Alhoulani

  • ‘I am very pleased with the support I have been receiving from the Welcoming.  The most important thing to me has been the Welcoming’s ability to connect me with others particularly in relation to my art work.  The Welcoming has helped me to find a studio space where I can draw and create new pieces of art.  I really appreciate the continued support from the Welcoming which helped me to overcome many barriers in terms of both my integration in the community and my career as an artist.  I am really impressed with the wide range of activities that Welcoming provides to its service users and the leading role that it is currently doing to support the Syrian refugees in Edinburgh.  I am delighted to be part of the Welcoming’.
    Nihad Al-Turk

Scotland for Newcomers
Weekly outings around Edinburgh to help people learn about Scotland’s culture and heritage.

  • ‘I’ve met new friends and I know more things about the city!’
  • ‘In the Welcoming, especially these projects – Scotland for Newcomers trips, reading and writing groups, photography groups, you are feeling ‘I am doing activities together’ it creates community.’
  • ‘Scotland for Newcomers is an amazing activity I could meet with new people could make new friendships. The venues and/or places which are chosen for each Wednesday are very exciting, interesting and the programmes are well organised, easy to understand. I’m very satisfied, thank you so much!’

English Conversation Cafe
Weekly fun discussion activities bringing volunteers and participants together

  • ‘Welcoming is perfect for me. People from all over the world can meet and talk about their transitions, life and attitudes.’
  • ‘I like the fact I can speak with different people. I can talk about different things and how people think about something. Different opinions. I like that. That I can share thoughts.’
  • ‘I think is a great way to improve your English skills and in addition you can meet amazing people around the world with different culture, different thoughts. I think it is amazing.’

Welcoming Digital Skills
Weekly classes people to help people gain digital skills and make good use of online services for everyday life in Edinburgh.

  • ‘The lesson helped break the fear barrier between us and the computer and the people.’
  • ‘We learned new words and skills and self reliance in the use of computers.’
  • ‘I love this program for my confidence!’

Creative Space
A weekend opportunity for people to enjoy all kinds of social and creative activities together.

  • ‘At Creative Space, I feel freedom and relaxed.’
  • ‘When I am more creative, I am more happy. Because I am near of the Creator.’
  • ‘I would never emphasise enough the good vibes and energy that you get from the people and the environment that the Welcoming creates for the world.’

Welcoming Choir
Weekly opportunity to sing together and celebrate #OneCommunity.

  • ‘The choir helps me to feel not alone.’
  • ‘The choir has given me the greatest sense of belonging and connection. Everyone was given great direction and confidence. I feel it’s the thing I’ve been looking for!’
  • ‘I got goosebumps when everyone started to sing!’

‘Free to Run’ Jogging Group
A weekly opportunity for locals and newcomers to enjoy running together

  • ‘I like that I can drop in whenever I have time, can meet people from all over the world and run at my own pace. The commitment of saying I will attend is good for making me go. (When I can!)’
  • ‘Before I join to our jogging group, I couldn’t imagine myself run more than 10 minutes but now I have confidence to run 30 minutes. What I like in the group, met people from other countries and have nice chatting, also I like the road. Is so great but so long someday I will discover when end of the road!’
  • ‘It’s a good way to learn verbal tenses on the go. ?I can’t run 30 seconds, I couldn’t run 30 seconds, I can’t run half hour, I couldn’t run half hour , I can’t run an hour.. I will run an hour ? for every step beyond my limits a footprint ? crossing the horizon ??

Cycling for Newcomers
Bike rides, route planning, info and advice to help open up a new way to enjoy Edinburgh.

  • ‘My first cycling in Edinburgh – so much fun, thank you!’
  • ‘A lovely day with lovely people, I really enjoyed it!’
  • ‘I was feeling like a child after so long, cheers Welcoming!’

Visitors to the Welcoming
We welcomed visitors from national and local government and a wide range of community organisations.

‘Scotland has a proud reputation as a caring country and I want to thank everyone in the last year who has extended a warm welcome to those seeking refuge and comfort here.’

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Christmas Message 2016