“To Whom it May Concern”


“To Whom It May Concern” Exhibition, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh {2004} 

A study by The Scottish Refugee Council has shown that a large number of asylum seekers and refugees that come into our country are highly educated individuals and had professional careers in their homelands. Despite this asylum seekers are refused the right to work until they are given a positive decision on their asylum claim.  Many of these people have specific skills, interests and talents which have seldom been revealed while they have been living here in Scotland. This project aims to remove the stereotypical visual representation of asylum seekers and refugees through the media by concentrating on aspects of peoples’ personalities, professions, hobbies and cultural heritage.

The project deliberately steers away from making specific reference to the various dynamics that have compelled the vast majority of these people to flee their homelands, often leaving family and friends behind or in another temporary safe haven. It is understandable that some people choose not to be reminded of the persecution that they have endured. After all, they have come here to seek a safer way of life and an opportunity to use their skills to support themselves, integrate into Scottish society and share their culture and customs with the Scottish people.

The asylum and immigration system in the UK has been highly criticised due to the level of bureaucracy and the inconsistency of decision making on individuals’ cases. Some of the people photographed as part of this project have waited years in order for a positive decision to be made on their initial application or appeal. In the meantime, these people are unable to work and we as a country are failing to utilise the skills and talents that they possess, even when we are faced with a skills shortage across many industries.

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