The Migration Blanket
The project in brief
"Really exciting and interesting, I learned a lot about my rights and helped me feel part of a community and learn about other cultures"
- Milan refugee in the UK
The project is implemented by ARTconnects in the United Kingdom. It began in 2017 and is currently ongoing.
Through high impact workshops refugee and asylum seeker women and their families learn about gender equality, their rights and climate change. They access opportunities and resources and are trained to communicate their stories through art and film campaigns to promote cohesion, compassion and solidarity. Participants improve mental health and are at the forefront of creating change in their communities making a positive contribution.
The project aims to empower Refugees with skills and training, give them a voice through creative expression, improve their mental health and influence policy making to improve the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, women and girls in particular.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Refugees and Asylum Seekers are taken to Parliament to address politicians with their concerns and speak at exhibitions and events about their needs and also trained to speak about their needs with local and national media.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
Convincing the UK Government to continue supporting the work at a time when there is a hostile environment. Ongoing project commissions from national organisations who currently don't work with refugees and access them through ARTconnects thus influencing them to encompass diversity in the workplace.
- UK Home Office
- Arts Council England
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
Having long-term funding for creative projects is always difficult in the UK, especially as ours also reaches refugees in other countries. There can be resistance from host communities to participate in workshops due to racism , therefore extra efforts are made to invite members and by working with local authorities we manage to invite hist communities.
How they were overcome
We have been trying to secure a sponsor and in conversation with sponsors who can fund us long-term.
Results of the Good Practice
Through mentoring and regular participation, Refugees have increased confidence to interact with others and host communities and motivated to work and find jobs, improved mental health, increased knowledge on climate change and human rights empowering them to make informed decisions for their lives. They have been shown correct and legal pathways to secure their documents/ visas and secure jobs.
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
ARTconnects objective is to empower people and communities to be leaders and to create peace and tolerance themselves therefore our work contributes towards easing the pressure on host countries in terms of creating environments which bolster community relations and encourage diversity and inclusion which in turn enhances local economies and promotes job creation for refugees. Our creative learning programmes assist those who have newly arrived and may not be accessing formal education and provides them with resources and access to information to help them settle into their new homes.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
ARTconnects empowers refugees with knowledge and skills which are key in assisting them to take control of their lives and find work and accommodation. By improving confidence in our workshops they are able to participate in job interviews in a confident manner, the creative expression helps them improve mental health which can become a barrier for many and leaves them isolated in communities. They also meet new people and make new friends helping them to settle in. Some refugees receive training to assist with workshops and learn about UK work culture and obtain job references, which they need for job applications and would otherwise not have access to preventing them from entering the job market. Despite increasing racism in communities, many have been successful with applications with an ARTconnects job reference.
Yes, refugees and asylum seekers see ARTconnects as a grassroots creative lifeline which has helped them change and improve their lives.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
We are in need of continued long-term funding as mentioned above.