A key part of our holistic support support programme for asylum seekers and refugees is our range of our arts-based activities.
We offer many opportunities to clients to participate in creative work, including through our Art and Writing Group, and our Choir. We work together with arts organisations, museums and galleries such as the V & A, British Museum, and Wallace Collection to open up their exhibitions to asylum seekers and refugees, and engage with the amazing range of art in London, through supported visits. Our Book Group, and partnerships with local libraries, enable clients to explore literature.
We also work in partnership with arts groups to develop new work, such as our recent puppetry project with the Little Angels Theatre.
“I find that reading this book stimulates my imagination and makes me see pictures in my mind”
Each session of our Art and Writing Group is based around a theme and utilises a range of methods, techniques and materials. For example, for the theme of ‘Street’ the class might go outside with clipboards and pastels on the first sunny day of spring. As the session progresses, the leads facilitate conversations around social, emotional and cultural connections to what is being drawn or painted.
Our Choir gathers to share songs from their own heritages, as well as to learn new songs. Often, the Choir will work with the Art and Writing Group to set the creative work of Centre members to music. The Choir has worked with a number of other musicians, enabling members to make links through music with the local community.
“I love the music because it makes me relax and switch off bad thoughts”
Our art projects help people gain new skills and increases their opportunities to express themselves, their history and their feelings. This is a vitally important aspect of recovery for people dealing with mental health issues in refugee communities. Our clients’ sense of isolation is reduced as they make meaningful connections in the class and share important memories, stories of their life and their current situation and experiences. As well as providing a therapeutic, creative space for clients, and a supportive, stimulating space for clients to develop and build confidence, our work is an innovative way for members to connect with the local community and make their voices heard. Our clients sometimes feel their voice is ‘taken away’, by the trauma of their experiences in their countries of origin, and their isolation in the UK. This work enables them to reclaim their voice and communicate their lived experiences directly.
“In my country figurative art is forbidden, but at the centre and in London, I can have art, music, dance”