Sewing Group gave Refugee a voice after 10 years

Sewing Group gave Refugee a voice after 10 years

Sewing Group gave Refugee a voice after 10 years

Sewing Group gave Refugee a voice after 10 years


For the first 10 years of her life in the UK, Aysha Aljaf relied on an interpreter.

She arrived in England in 2008 on a spouse's visa, having fled her home in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq - her husband had already gone through the UK's asylum process.

The mother of two went on to learn some English through college, but did not have the confidence to tackle conversations on her own.

That was until she moved to Scotland and discovered a group of refugee women, who met in a small church in Renfrewshire to share their sewing skills and talk amongst friends.

"When I came here, for more than nine years I was living in the UK - I can't speak," Aysha told the BBC. "Everywhere I went I took an interpreter with me.

"I came to see [the sewing group], it was really fabulous. I'm so happy I found it. I came for a few days and they asked me to start teaching. I've been coming now for three and a half years. I've learned more English than in college.

"I speak because face-to-face you can talk about everything, there's more learning. My [vocabulary] is much better than before because I meet with a lot of ladies and very nice families."

Sewing2Gether was founded in 2018 by freelance sewing tutor Gabi Cullen, who runs workshops from the Mossvale Community Church in Paisley.

Funded by Renfrewshire Council, the group teaches participants about textile upcycling, helping them turn unwanted or discarded fabric into clothes, toys and gifts.

It began with just one attendee for the first few months - but now more than 40 refugee women come along to sew, make friends and develop their conversational English.

Aysha said the network of women has not only improved her language skills but has been willing to help her fill in forms.

Now a British citizen, she has volunteered as a sewing tutor with the group and went on to secure work as a self employed seamstress.

For more information see:

Was this helpful?
This will help us improve this site.

Our Funders