In the past five years, 527 refugee children were seen by specialist health professionals for their first medical and wellbeing assessment at The Haven, a ‘first stop’ clinic for newly arrived asylum seekers in Bristol. Our City of Sanctuary’s young refugee population is growing, with a significant number of young people finding themselves in the care system and also attempting to navigate their way through education, legal, social and cultural frameworks.
Building upon fifteen months of research, discussion and collaboration with local voluntary organisation and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health team (NHS CAMHS) and we’re teaming up with Creative Youth Network to extend their established ‘Welcome Wednesdays’ into an afternoon session of art, art therapy and CYN led activities of sports, games and individual advice on their issues.
The afternoon got off to a lively start with some young people from Afghanistan joining the session, bringing in music in their own language on their phones from films and pop music singing about complications of young love. Although they hadn’t met before, it wasn’t long before they were exchanging stories about what they had discovered in the health, education, care system and social worlds within Bristol and encouraging each other to seize opportunities to make improvements in their new lives in the UK. They decided that they wanted to do some drawing as well as taking up the offer of printing from the materials that were available and worked carefully and steadily throughout the afternoon, taking pride in pegging up the images when completed.
At the end of the session, the boys helped us in carrying the materials upstairs along with three long lines of string with the afternoon’s images pegged on them, a boy at each end.
Sessions are running every Wednesday afternoon until the 31st May.