You’re never too young to be heard: Cam­paigner urges teenagers to stand their ground and raise their voices

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS - By Murray Scougall [email protected] Glas­gow Girls, King’s The­atre, Glas­gow, Wed to Sat, then Ed­in­burgh, Perth, In­ver­ness and Dublin.

It’s good that young peo­ple can see this and know they can make a dif­fer­ence, they can achieve change

One of the Glas­gow Girls has sounded a clar­ion call for today’s teenagers to make their voices heard.

Amal Azzudin was one of seven Drum­chapel teens who cam­paigned against dawn raids and fam­ily de­ten­tion of asy­lum seek­ers in 2005, prompt­ing a change in the rights of the chil­dren in­volved.

Their in­spir­ing story was turned into a mu­si­cal, which re­turns to the stage this week, and Amal says its mes­sage is as rel­e­vant now as ever.

“It’s im­por­tant young peo­ple see the show,” said Amal, now 29.

“When we were cam­paign­ing we didn’t know how to do it, so it’s good young peo­ple can see this and know they can make a dif­fer­ence, that, no mat­ter your age or where you are from, you can achieve change.

“So much of what is hap­pen­ing around the world is mak­ing it rel­e­vant again.”

Di­rec­tor and writer Cora Bis­sett agrees: “The first time we put it on, it was close enough to the real events of forced re­movals, the second time was just be­fore the ref­er­en­dum and the issue of Scot­land po­ten­tially hav­ing power over im­mi­gra­tion, and now I think it’s the big­gest prob­lem of the present time, with the on­go­ing refugee cri­sis.

“It also cel­e­brates com­mu­nity spirit and is a ral­ly­ing call.”

It’s that ral­ly­ing call that Amal wants to shine through to au­di­ences and she hopes they are in­spired by the mul­ti­cul­tural group of friends who came to­gether after Agnesa Murselaj and her fam­ily were forcibly re­moved from their home and de­tained.

Their cam­paign took them all the way to a meet­ing with then First Min­is­ter Jack Mccon­nell.

Agnesa and her fam­ily were even­tu­ally granted per­ma­nent leave to re­main.

She and the rest of the Glas­gow Girls have gone on to have ca­reers where they try to af­fect change.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do for a ca­reer but after this I re­alised I wanted to con­tinue help­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially as I also went through the asy­lum sys­tem.”

Amal was born in So­ma­lia and came to Glas­gow with her mother in 2000 to es­cape the civil war in their home­land. After four years, they were granted leave to re­main.

“My mum was re­ally wor­ried about me get­ting in­volved,” Amal con­tin­ued. “She brought two kids over here and then I took on the whole op­er­a­tion, but she saw how de­ter­mined I was.

“I was so out­raged and an­gry, I knew I had to make a stand, but it was scary and I didn’t know what I was do­ing.”

Amal works with asy­lum seek­ers through her job with the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion and was hon­oured at the Saltire So­ci­ety’s Out­stand­ing Women of Scot­land 2016 and won the Uni­ver­sity of Glas­gow’s World Chang­ing Alumni Award last year.

“One of the main is­sues of men­tal health is be­ing in that limbo where you don’t know if you are go­ing to be here to­mor­row, and can’t get fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion or a job. I worked with one vol­un­teer who’d been in that sit­u­a­tion for 24 years.”

The sub­ject mat­ter might not seem like mu­si­cal ma­te­rial, but Cora de­cided it was the best way to get the show’s mes­sage across.

“You can have pow­er­ful the­atre seen by a very small amount of peo­ple, but I wanted this to have a broad ap­peal to at­tract peo­ple who may look at the is­sues dif­fer­ently,” she said.

Amal added: “There is a lot of neg­a­tive rhetoric around im­mi­gra­tion but there is light at the end of the tun­nel. I see so much great work on the grass­roots level and when we all work to­gether there is noth­ing we can’t achieve. I want that mes­sage to carry on down through the gen­er­a­tions.”

Di­rec­tor Cora Bis­sett: ‘The play is a ral­ly­ing call’

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