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by james macgregor | Jan, 2002 | contact:

Edinburgh Tories decry refugee video diary project

Local Conservative councillors have dismissed plans for a video diary scheme among teenage refugees in Edinburgh as "a waste of cash". Around 9000 pounds have been earmarked for the project that will allow a group of children to record their experiences of coming to Edinburgh. The footage will then be edited into one film which will be premiered at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse.

Joel Venet is co-ordinator of Pilton Video Project, which is running and part-funding the scheme He said the video diaries provide invaluable experience for the teenagers.

"I think it is a way for them personally to come to terms with the experiences they have had. " He added, "It also allows them the chance to communicate this to the other young people who are here in the city and adults as well."

However, councillor Daphne Sleigh remains to be convinced. "I am sure the film will be most interesting. But when we are short of 1.6 million on the cleansing budget, there are threats of closures and a diminished service which we certainly cannot afford to have, and the state of the roads and pavements are deteriorating on a daily basis, I do not think this is a priority."

She added that if money was allocated to help refugees, "It could be put to much better use than making a video. That is typical of this administration which is taking the luvvie’s position to a ridiculous degree".

It’s expected that teenagers from Africa, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe will take part in the Hidden Voices scheme which is backed by the Scottish Refugee Council. A spokeswoman for the council said, "Anything that can combat the negative images of asylum seekers at a community level is extremely positive." A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh education department added: "This is a national arts initiative that is lottery funded and there are strict guidelines on how the funding can be used. Over 100 children across Edinburgh will benefit from this and eight other film projects and for the first time young people in Edinburgh will have the chance to participate in film-making on a large scale."

The education department gained a 40,000 grant from the Film Council’s First Light scheme. Hidden Voices is just one of nine projects across the city which will see children as young as ten given a chance to take part in their first experience of film making.

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