Art Refuge uses art and art therapy to support the mental health and well-being of people displaced due to conflict, persecution and poverty, in the UK and internationally. Their work is delivered by a small team of experienced HCPC registered art therapists, and artists who have lived experience as refugees, while we are steered by an outstanding board of trustees.
Their funding largely comes in the form of generous donations from individuals and small trusts which allow them to be agile in the work and responsive to need. Close partnerships and collaborations with local organisations in each setting enable them to keep overheads to an absolute minimum so that donations go towards direct project delivery costs.
Most of those they work with are unaccompanied young male refugees and asylum seekers from north Africa and the Middle East, including Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and Afghanistan.
They have projects on either side of the English Channel - in Paris, Calais and Kent – as well as in London, Weston super Mare and their base in Bristol. In Bristol, they offer a weekly support group for foster carers and others who care for young unaccompanied asylum seekers as they are aware how challenging this work can be for carers. They adapt their materials to respond to each specific context and are becoming known for their innovative use of large-scale maps, photography, animation, postcards, manual typewriters and small engineered building bricks. Currently they are developing a new project using world spices called ‘smell as home’.
They also deliver tailor-made arts-based training, crisis support and skills-sharing workshops in the UK, France and internationally and they welcome requests. They are involved in exhibitions, public awareness raising events, and also formal learning opportunities and research where these can enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of the arts in supporting the wellbeing of people who are displaced.
Last but not least, at the start of Covid19 they responded to community level displacement and issues of loneliness and isolation among the population at large by launching an online global public art project called CORONAQUILT which focuses on the daily rituals that people use to help them cope. To date, they've had 1,700 contributions of artmaking, photography and textiles from 36 countries and they welcome everyone to get involved! www.coroanquilt.org
Their work - which builds on people’s capacity to cope with stress, to hold onto imagination, to find resilience through connection and community - has never been more critical, not least in the UK. The hostile environment, which impacts directly and adversely on the mental and physical health of those seeking safety and protection on their shores, is currently looking to get much worse due to the new Nationality and Borders Bill now making its way through parliament.
Please show your support and vote for Art Refuge in the November Charity Poll, and for any additional information or to donate, follow through to their site: https://www.artrefuge.org.uk/