“ARTS PROJECTS GIVE YOUNG REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES.”LUCY ELGOOD, PROJECT MANAGER AT SALUSBURY WORLD
In 2020, more than 2,000 young people claimed asylum in the UK after leaving their countries of origin. In March 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the previous month, fifty-five children became refugees every minute, amounting to 75,000 refugees a day.
Experiencing displacement is distressing and isolating. In particular, The Council of Europe states that young refugees are among the most vulnerable because “they may have had experiences involving violence, exploitation and trauma, and the risk of violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms continues”.
our work with salusbury world
In July 2019, thanks to grant funding from John Lyon’s Charity, we launched community:matters, our project in partnership with three Brent-based services that support migrants, refugees and young carers. One of these services is Salusbury World, a Brent-based charity that provides support and services to refugee and migrant children, young people and families.
Lucy Elgood, the charity’s Project Manager, told us: “The children and teenagers we support are refugees and migrants from all over the world who are starting to find their feet in new communities in London. We want them to feel confident and hopeful for their futures. Arts projects give them a great opportunity to express themselves in new ways, and boost self-esteem and social skills.”
Having worked with young people for more than 19 years, we have seen first-hand the incredible impact that creativity can have on people from all walks of life. Uprooting your life and everything you have ever known to move to a new, unfamiliar place is unimaginably frightening for young people coming from war-torn countries. community:matters uses the creative arts to provide young people in Brent with a voice and a vital means of self-expression.
The project also helps to enhance confidence and self-esteem by enabling them to explore their creativity in high-quality creative workshops delivered by our highly-skilled professional artists. Whilst taking part in our projects, participants work together, helping them to make new friends with other young people who have shared similar experiences, build important bonds and reduce their feelings of isolation during exceptionally difficult, often traumatic, times.
getting creative with afra
Looking back at her initial thoughts on arriving in the UK, young migrant and community:matters participant Afra said: “I wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t like being in England. I’m not sure if I’m speaking English very well. I got bullied at school. They just want to make you feel bad so you’ll leave.”
“IT FEELS NICE TO DO SOMETHING CREATIVE BECAUSE YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW.”AFRA, COMMUNITY:MATTERS PARTICIPANT
Afra took part in our community:matters filmmaking project during February 2022, led by our professional filmmaker. After spending a few days on the project with other young people, Afra said: “On the first day I was a bit uncomfortable because they are new and they are not my friends, but then I became so much more comfortable day after day.
“It feels nice to do something creative because you learn something new. Linda, the professional filmmaker, was really nice and felt passionately about filmmaking. She had a very nice teaching technique.”
Lucy highlighted another of Salusbury World’s young people, a 15-year-old Syrian refugee, who also took part. “He’d been diffident when invited and said it really wasn’t for him, but came along to days two and three after his friends told him how great the first day was. He was very focused throughout and the following week sent my colleague a WhatsApp message asking for the name of the editing app we’d been using because he was now making films for himself. It was really great to see someone wanting to carry on developing the skills they’d learnt in a workshop.”
WATCH THE FILMS
The films created by young refugees and migrants on our community:matters project focused on topics affecting young people today, including mental health awareness. You can watch some of the films below, and you can learn more about community:matters here.