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Professor Alison Phipps

A strong family tradition of generous hospitality and a flair for languages led Professor Alison Phipps to volunteer as an interpreter at the Immigration Detention Centre at Dungavel.

But her life was changed forever when a teenage girl from Eritrea, who arrived in Scotland after a difficult and dangerous journey alone, became part of their family. Alison found herself becoming a mother to a daughter who did not share her mother tongue.

As her daughter’s right to remain in the UK was challenged, Alison found herself increasingly asked for public and media comment. Today, in her appointment as the UNESCO Professor of Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts in the University of Glasgow, Alison’s is an important voice, not just in Scotland but across the world.

Her UNESCO Professorship is very much a shared project of opening out a world which people can imagine inhabiting, one of shared life, relationships and hospitality. As increasing numbers of people are forced to move, questions of land, language and belonging become increasingly important

Alison Phipps portrait

Faced with the challenge of how to help people - and especially poorer women - move into their new reality, it is important not to be scared to step into someone else’s world.

- Professor Alison Phipps.
Image credits and information i
Credit: Esme Allen
Maria Konti-Galinou portrait

Major Maria Konti-Galinou

Major Maria Konti-Galinou is a Salvation Army Officer working in Athens to support some of the many thousands of refugees who arrived in Greece in 2015-16.

When Greece was affected by serious economic crisis in 2011, Major Maria and a colleague established the Salvation Army in Thessaloniki to offer practical support to the most vulnerable citizens. Then in 2015, Greece’s domestic problems intensified with a massive increase in the number of immigrants and asylum seekers arriving by sea. There are now over 50,000 refugees stranded there.

Major Maria set up a second Salvation Army hub in Athens from where she runs a day centre for the many women and children hoping to join their families in Europe. Mothers have been separated from their children; many have health problems. But she offers them hospitality and dignity: a good meal, clothing and hygiene packs.

With her husband, Maria now has a new appointment in England as Corps officers at Nunhead Salvation Army church.

This crisis has brought together the churches and faith-based NGOs. Together we’re working to support the women of Greece and the refugees.

- Major Maria Konti-Galinou.

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