Journeys Festival International (JFI) celebrates the artistic talents of refugee and asylum seekers and shares their experiences through great art and culture, both of those in the UK and around the world. A staggering 65 million people (UNHCR) were displaced in 2015, making people seeking refuge an international matter.
But, how much do you know about the asylum process here in the UK? Where do you find the true facts and figures? And, most importantly, who are the people at the heart of this process?
Throughout February and March, Journeys Festival International hosted training sessions for their portfolio of incredible partners across the 3 UK cities of Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth. The support that our partners provide, both in festival delivery and the advocacy of refugee and asylum seeker awareness, is invaluable. The training sessions were open to partner organisations, their staff and artists they work with to help them learn more about the complex process of seeking asylum in the UK, hear from people with personal experiences of this and how to effectively deliver creative projects within these communities. The aim of this training was to empower our partners to feel comfortable and confident to talk about refugee and asylum seeker artists, and support venues and organisations to become spaces that welcome refugees and asylum seekers.
In Leicester the training was led by local branches of City of Sanctuary, British Red Cross and VOICES volunteers. VOICES is an initiative led by the British Red Cross which mentors refugees to enable them to have confidence in public speaking and sharing their experiences. Many thanks to all those involved and the VOICES volunteers who shared their personal and very poignant experiences of displacement.
“It was nice to see so many people who are keen to learn more about the experience of seeking asylum and refuge. Thank you to Journeys Festival International for organising the event.”
Joseph Thurgate, Service Co-ordinator, Refugee Services, British Red Cross
In Manchester, the sessions were delivered by Manchester Refugee Support Network, Rethink Rebuild Society and Community Arts North West with additional support from Regional Asylum Activism. We’d like to thank all involved, particularly those who shared personal experiences of detention and the asylum process, and Royal Exchange Theatre for hosting us.
“The training was informative and inspiring. It provided real insights into the experiences of refugee and asylum seekers and gave clear examples of best practice in relation to setting up arts provision. Came away with many more questions than answers but it provided a very necessary, critical starting point.”
Nina Hajiyianni, Action Transport Theatre and TYA UK
The Portsmouth awareness training was hosted by our partners at British Red Cross and enhanced the knowledge of all JFI partners in the city. Providing an informative session on the national and local situation for refugees and asylum seekers, we ended the afternoon looking at how we might react if we suddenly had to flee the UK.
Resources for More Information
Journeys Festival International have collated a variety of resources for you to use and share. Educating, raising awareness and talking about the asylum seeker experience enables understanding of why people need to seek refuge in the UK.
British Red Cross - An information pack about asylum seekers that have fallen into destitution in the UK.
The Platforma Network - An online network of refugee and asylum seeker artists.
A useful brief paper on the mental health need of RAS (May 2016) from King's College can be found here.
We recommend signing up for the Refugees Deeply digest.
The following resources are courtesy of Regional Asylum Activism.
Facts, figures and real-life refugee stories
There are many accessible and informative resources to help raise awareness about why people are forced to flee their homes, their journeys, and the challenges they experience here in the UK as they seek protection from persecution. Here are some resources people may find particularly helpful.
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