“I feel I am Home! I love it!”

Vicki Mowat, a member of our Press and PR team, recently headed out to Loch Lomond to join a group of refugees at Inchcailloch. Here she reflects on a very successful Govan Community Project trip.

A few weeks ago, we had a magical trip to Inchcailloch on Loch Lomond. The weather wasn’t exactly magical but it was mostly dry – and nothing was about to dampen our spirits. For we were out with a group from the Govan Community Project, a wonderful organisation which works with refugees and asylum seekers to provide support, help them access services, and build community.

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I think we all felt like we were seeing the loch through new eyes, as we accompanied two Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park rangers, project staff and a group of refugees who don’t usually have the means to get out of the city and enjoy the beautiful Scottish countryside. The refugees ranged in age from teenagers to an elderly woman (who managed to bring along a big pot of delicious rice for us all to share!). I think you can easily see from the pictures just how much fun we all had.

One of the volunteers who came along described what many of us felt about the day: “I found it an extremely uplifting and humbling experience which highlighted the value of nature as a form of therapy, something not used enough in Scotland!”

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It was even more wonderful to hear from the refugees themselves how much they enjoyed the excursion. Here’s how a few of them described it:

  • “It was a very good trip and I was excited to go there! The place reminded me of my home country. I was very happy.”
  • “I feel I am Home! I love it!”
  • “That trip was the best. I haven’t had fun like that in a long time! I am up for a trip like that to a different location anytime!”
  • “The trip was very good for me. It was exciting to meet the rangers and I enjoyed it very much!”
  • “I liked the little ferry we went on. I also really enjoyed doing a trip altogether with all my friends and walking in the trees and meeting new people from Scottish Natural Heritage. And I really enjoyed the rangers talking about the trees and Loch Lomond. The whole day was wonderful, I had a great time.”
  • “It was a very nice trip, I felt like we were in a jungle. It’s different from Europe, the loch and all the green, I like that place. I would like to go again and again.”

A Govan Community Project staff member summed it up well: “This has been a truly wonderful experience for community members, staff and volunteers at GCP. We were able to all come together and experience Scotland’s nature in a way that felt very wholesome and inclusive. This could not have been made possible without the support given to us in preparation for the event from the team at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Park in Balmaha. It has shown us the value of nature for personal and community development, something we plan to continue to offer our community members and service users.”

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We at SNH hope to continue to be a part of that as well, and it was a day that the four of us who were lucky enough to go along will treasure and never forget. We’d particularly like to thank the two wonderful Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park rangers, Beverley Clarke and Tim Messer, who kept us all enthralled with tales of this historic island and the area around it.

See the Loch Lomond and National Park website for more information on Inchcailloch.

If you’re interested in donating to the Govan Community Project, see https://www.justgiving.com/gcin

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