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PSYCHOSOCIAL ACTIVITIES IN ACTION: Across languages, cultures, time zones and continents!

On November 29th we were delighted to welcome over 80 people to our first open-call online training “An Art Refuge introduction to arts-based psychosocial activities”.

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

The training was in response to a growing interest in the role of the visual arts in supporting people who are displaced, seeking asylum and refugees, and the many training requests we receive from artists, arts therapists, support workers, teachers, students, volunteers and so on. Safe, playful experiential exercises were included as a teaching tool, alongside some case material, theory and time for questions.

While we collate feedback and think about next steps, we wanted to share an unexpected outcome of the training.

People joined from across the UK and Europe, Washington DC, Mexico City, and further afield, including a group of young people attending a small project ‘Healing Health Healing Hearts’ in Nakivale Refugee Camp (the oldest camp in Africa) in southern Uganda. In this setting we have been offering informal peer support to local projects.

One of the exercises was bilateral drawing which everyone participated in across several screens on Zoom, most people joining on laptops. The community group of 10 or more young people in Uganda managed to engage in the exercise via one mobile phone with limited data, a lesson in resilience to us all.

One short film we shared was of a demonstration of how to make a paper boat by a man at The Community Table in Calais last Friday. At the time, a small group gathered around him observing each fold of paper. The demonstration was followed by the group in Uganda who made several paper boats, showing us the wonder of arts-based psychosocial activities across languages, cultures, time zones and continents.

Words by Bobby Lloyd, Miriam Usiskin & Aida Silvestri.

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