A black and white photo of a man. He has dark hair and facial hair. He is crouched on a curb with his hands crossed over his knees. He is looking downwards into the camera.

Introducing our 2023 mentee cohort

The third run of the Cross Borders mentoring programme has begun! The programme began in 2021 and has since run annually by open call. Participants are artists and activists at any stage in their career and at any stage of the asylum process or immigration system. They are paired with an established mentor who provides valuable guidance, support and encouragement.

We are delighted to welcome the third cohort of mentees; this year we have ten brilliant artists, activists, and cultural practitioners from refugee and other migrant backgrounds. Over the next year, they will work with established mentors to gain new perspectives and develop new connections.

Meray Diner

Meray Diner is a Cypriot filmmaker based in Glasgow. Her latest short documentary ‘Pembe Ay’ (Pink Moon) was commissioned by Scottish Documentary Institute and premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival in August 2023. She has been delivering filmmaking programmes with GMAC Film and Film Access Scotland; and workshops with Romano Lav Young Catalysts. As part of the Mentoring Programme, she will be exploring telling more stories from inspiring characters of immigrant backgrounds in Scotland.

“I want to produce work in which migrant characters are in the main roles – but I want to focus on untold journeys that can be emotional, funny, and ordinary or extraordinary stories in Scotland.”

Elhan Afzal

Elhan Afzal is an Afghan storyteller & photojournalist currently living in Scotland. Afzal’s work has been published in The Times, By The Lines, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), Daily Beast, Open Democracy and more. Currently, his work focuses on exhibitions, war site reports and documentaries.

Elhan is looking forward to obtaining new equipment so that he can begin working on new stories and making new connections in Scotland.

Anna Molodtsova

Anna Molodtsova (pen name Anna Molman) is a writer from the central region of Ukraine. She says that her entire life, she has loved to read, sharing that books saved her from disappointment, loneliness, fatigue, pain, tears, and self-doubt. Her career began in 2019, when she wrote her first novel, Tango of Water and Flame.

Anna came to North Ayrshire, Scotland in May 2022 with her 10-year-old son, after fleeing from the war. Now she has 11 novels written in her native language, 19 short stories and 15 fairy tales. Two of her novels and five of her short stories were translated into English. Anna has published some of them on Amazon and her author’s website. Now she works in Glasgow, helping other Ukrainian refugees to find jobs, and continues creating her narratives. She writes multiple genres including sci-fi, fantasy, romance and mystery, sometimes skilfully mixing them into one story.


HUSS is an Arab performance and visual artist based in Glasgow. Tackling personal and cultural themes, his discipline involves experimenting and combining elements such as installation, sculpture, visuals and audio to culminate in immersive performance pieces.

Huss uses his work as a Queer person of colour to raise issues facing the Arab world that lack acknowledgment in Western society, especially anti-queer laws and how much they have always censored and endangered artists like himself.


Seif Eddine Jlassi

Seif Eddine Jlassi is an artist and cultural activist. Since 2015, he has been a member of the United Nations Youth Advisory Council. He is a certificated trainer in cultural management, new tactics of Human rights, and advocacy. In 2011, he founded “Fanni Raghman Anni”, a cultural organisation in Tunisia that is working to advocate access to culture mainly in interior and disadvantaged areas and promote the role of culture in social change.

“This grant would make a significant difference to my practice by providing me with the opportunity to enhance my skills in community engagement and outreach. With the funding, I would be able to organise workshops, interactive sessions, and collaborative activities related to the “New Syria” exhibition, specifically targeting public and cultural spaces , community centres, and organisations.”

Fatou Gitteh

Fatou Gitteh is a mother, grandmother, and activist who has had precarious immigration status for over 15 years. She is a founding member of Ubuntu Women’s Shelter and has recently been appointed as the organisation’s co-director. Her practice is focused on resisting the hostile environment and changing lives through care and kindness. She is influenced by both mothers and grandmothers who keep our world together but are hidden, marginalised and are not heard.

Fatou will use the grant to travel to events and learn more about how to become supportive and caring co-director from other community organisers. She is looking forward to working with her mentor to develop new habits and boundaries, and to learn ways to direct care inwards while working with others.


Oleksandra Novatska

Oleksandra is a professional watercolour and pencil drawing artist from Lviv, Ukraine who is currently living in Dumfries, Scotland. She graduated from th4e Ukrainian Academy of Printing, Bachelor’s Degree with Honors, Fine and Decorative applied arts.

Oleksandra is working towards integrating into cultural life in Scotland. She hopes to work with a mentor to create new connections and gain support to develop new themes for her work.


Midya Jan

Midya Jan is a musician from Rojava, Kurdistan who currently resides in Glasgow. With a passion for music, she sings in several languages, including Kurdish, Arabic, Persian, and various Kurdish dialects. She is a member of the Baran Group, a music ensemble based in Glasgow who focus on both contemporary and folk Eastern music from Iran and Kurdistan.

Midya will work with a mentor to develop skills in organising projects, recording, managing bookings and budgets. She hopes to work with collaborators to develop new music.


Yamamah Salam

Yamamah Salam is a Glasgow-based artist whose work centres on women’s rights, sustainability, and community engagement. During the mentoring programme she hopes to explore her interests further and to develop new skills in digital art and design.


“Through my art, I strive to encapsulate the essence of women – their strength, resilience, and unyielding ambition to secure their rights. With a rich Arab background, I’ve witnessed the struggles women face first-hand. This exposure inspired me to channel my creative energy towards depicting the realities faced by Arab women and women worldwide.

In a world that often demands conformity, I find solace in my role as an artist – a storyteller who speaks for those whose voices may otherwise go unheard. My journey as an artist is a testament to the transformative power of passion, persistence, and the pursuit of meaningful expression.”

Find our more about how the mentoring programme works here. We hope to open again for applications in Summer 2024.