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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill, Topical Question Time, Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1, Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) (Scotland) Bill: Financial Resolution, Health and Care Recovery (Winter Planning), Point of Order, Committee Announcement (Finance and Public Administration Committee), Decision Time, Challenge Poverty Week 2022, Correction


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is Dr Mary Njoki PhD, who is a research fellow at the University of Stirling and a social worker.

Dr Mary Njoki (University of Stirling)

Thank you, Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, for this opportunity to lead the Parliament in time for reflection.

Where do I belong? Where is home? When I visit my home country, I am often told that I no longer belong, because my thinking and my way of doing things have changed—especially in expecting people to queue and in my impeccable timekeeping. If I complain when someone is an hour late, they proclaim, “I am now here. That is all that matters.”

When I am in the United Kingdom, I am constantly asked where I am from. That question reminds me that I am an outsider, having come from elsewhere.

I grappled with my sense of belonging until I decided that I belonged here, there and everywhere, and—most important—that I belonged to myself. That meant that I do not need to belong to a specific geographical location.

Some Scottish friends have told me that I belong here, that they want me here and that I am even more Scottish than some of them, with the different causes that I have. Although beautiful, that was not convincing.

However, recently, an occasion made me review and reflect on my sense of belonging. In August 2022, we very belatedly celebrated my 40th birthday—that was two and a half years late, due to Covid. My neighbours hosted my guests who had travelled from different parts of the world. One person whom I had never met hosted my friend from Belgium after I was told to post the request on our street WhatsApp group. Another neighbour harvested tonnes of apples from her allotment for the party, and another collected wood donations from other neighbours for the bonfire at the beach after-party, which she manned. Other neighbours dealt with all the recycling that was needed after the party. Another offered to be the disc jockey for the after-party, and many kept asking what they could do to help. I had never experienced such neighbourliness. Their gestures, generosity and kindness touched me deeply.

That experience made me realise that, whether I feel that I belong or do not belong in Scotland or Kenya, I definitely belong in my neighbourhood. That sense of belonging helps in building resilience and reduces loneliness and isolation for those coming from elsewhere to make Scotland their home and for those who were born in Scotland.

I urge you all to promote and support activities that help to build community capacity and cohesion, which enhances wellbeing, a sense of belonging and supportive neighbourhoods in Scotland to improve people’s quality of life and connectivity.

Thank you very much.