I am an asylum seeker, and I am not allowed to work. For some time, I spent too much of my days at home, not going out. It had an impact on my mental health and my GP told me I need to become more involved in the community. One of my friends told me about MIN so I joined Men’s Group in March 2019 to see what it was like. Here I found that there are so many different activities, and I’m making friends with Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Sudanese, Kurdish, people, we all speak different languages, it’s a unique experience. This group is so important to me because I don’t have family here, and only a few friends, but now I am beginning to meet more people, we chat, share problems, and listen to each other. We also gain experience, knowledge and my confidence is beginning to grow. So far, I’ve learned many things with this group, for example, computing skills. Other experiences we shared include outdoor activities and a camping trip to Loch Lomond. We stayed there camping overnight, this was a first time experience for me, it was so exciting and thrilling! MIN was able to arrange suitable clothing and equipment too, everything was thought about so we could enjoy this time, learning more about Scotland and being in nature, out of the city. It important for us to experience this as we don’t have the ability or resources to access such places, even one short trip can have a big impact on how I’m feeling, the memories last and it’s so nice to show my family the photos, it makes them feel happy to know I’m here, safe and able to join these kinds of activities.

We also did yoga which was so good, the physical activity was important for me, to try something new and to feel healthy. The main difference that being part of Men’s Group has made to my life is that I have made more friendships, meeting different types of people I would probably never have met before, I have learned new skills, and most importantly my mental health has improved. I am depending less upon medication from the doctor for depression, now I can manage this, only taking just a few now and then when bad news from the Home Office comes, but coming to MIN where there is a positive atmosphere, it is such a good place to be. MIN is different to other community places I’ve been, it is more diverse, and you can do so many activities all in one place. For example, my wife comes to the choir, my children come to youth activities and we all go to the Family Group as well as. Providing childcare at the groups really helps with participation, I’m happy to know they are safe in the creche, and I can relax and enjoy taking part in activities knowing this.  At MIN we get so much confidence to talk to other people, since March we spoke to so many different people and I’ve improved my English, especially understanding Scottish accents! The Men’s Group makes me happy, I know that here is the right place for me to be.