IT’S been an incredibly challenging year for marginalised communities – Glasgow Afghan United (GAU) took the opportunity to reflect last month as the UK marked one year since the Covid-19 crisis took hold.

We have worked very hard this past year. We hope life will return to normal soon. But we’ll continue with our lifeline work with people young and old as long as it is needed.

And we wanted to explain a bit about how we’ve helped vulnerable Glaswegians through the pandemic.

When we had to suspend our face-to-face services in March 2020, we knew we had to find a way to continue serving our members and community.

So we moved everything we could online to continue vital support for children and adults through teacher-led language classes, home school clubs and fitness and wellbeing sessions.

We opened up our hugely successful cultural events programme to the world through the web, with guests from around the globe logging in to join our Burns & Rumi celebrations in Glasgow, which honour Scottish and Afghan poetry traditions each January. Audience members joined in from Germany, Jamaica and more to watch entertainment including comic Karen Dunbar.

We also set up regular food deliveries to vulnerable and shielding households. More than 1000 deliveries of fresh meats and vegetables have been made.

We want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped us embark on this work. We sincerely appreciate it.

Director Abdul Bostani commented: “We could never have imagined a year like the last. The Covid-19 pandemic never stopped Glasgow Afghan United’s efforts to improve people’s lives and we will continue to work hard to support our city’s communities throughout 2021 and into the future.

“Glasgow’s people are resilient, capable and community-spirited. So are our members and volunteers, many of whom are refugees and migrants – New Scots who have already faced great challenges in their lives. 

“This is the strength we draw on to deliver our services. But the last year has brought challenges with health, work and wellbeing the likes of which many people have never seen.

“It has been an incredibly difficult year for marginalised communities who already faced obstacles to education, employment, healthcare, sport and integration.

“GAU has risen to the challenge of connecting and supporting our multi-cultural citizens. We are proud of what we have achieved and we will keep going as we fight this virus and move our city into recovery from the crisis.”

Nagineh Azar, GAU Women’s Project Coordinator, said: “We know women have shouldered much of the extra homeschooling and childcare and have also been disproportionately affected by changes to employment during the pandemic. Our Women’s Empowerment Project has focused on remote mental health and support sessions and will continue to teach skills to help communities build back.

“Moving our homework and language clubs online also supported school pupils from minority backgrounds to prevent already marginalised youngsters falling behind.”

One service user said: “Feeling lonely in the Covid-19 time has affected us all. Wellbeing support from GAU has been really good, especially for women. It has been good to laugh together.”

One food parcel recipient told GAU: “Thank you for supporting everyone in this pandemic. We are really happy for your help. This has helped so much. We would love to thank GAU.”