ROUTES/HERE has been forming organically over the last four years and was born out of our art and art therapy groups with young refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol (2017-2021). Our Bristol lead, Sarah Robinson and local Intercultural Trainer and foster carer, Alison Clarkson Webb, identified a need to deliver a space to bring together the people who support young people in Bristol and the surrounding counties with the shared focus of strengthening the network around these young people.
The shared global and local experience of the impact of coronavirus led us to think about how we could continue to support the young people when online youth groups saw a temporary reduction in uptake, and so it seemed timely to launch our pilot project during summer 2020.
The success of the pilot enabled us to continue to offer an online group for foster carers, supported lodgings hosts, advocates and key workers who support, care for, guide and learn from these young people who have reached safety in the UK from Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanstan, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Syria and Kurdistan.
Background in Bristol
Art Refuge has had a base in Bristol since 2014 where we have been fortunate to work with a varied group of key partners and collaborators including Creative Young Network, The HOPE Virtual School, St Paul’s Darkroom and East Central Bristol Children’s Services. In Bristol, we have offered both closed art therapy spaces and open drop-in spaces and have been able to focus upon the potential of photography as a tool by which to help young refugees adjust to a new life in new urban and sub-urban environments.
Those accessing our groups in Bristol often originate from Afghanistan, Vietnam, Somalia, the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Iran and Syria, and non-Kurdish Syria. Since 2017 we have reached over 250 young refugees in the city directly, more than 600 people indirectly, and have supported around 25 foster carers due to our art therapy groups and photographic workshops, while our online campaigning activities regularly reach thousands within the general public.
Here's what young people have said about our photography, art and art therapy groups .
Including analogue and digital, experimental and traditional photography, film/animation, outings, exhibitions and guest photographers, our year long Photography Project 2019-20 hereiamhereweare took place alongside Welcome Wednesdays at Creative Youth Network, The Station, Bristol.
Funders include the Quartet Community Foundation and individual donors.
Project team: Amy Wilson (photographer/art therapist) with Anna Kälin (photographer/artist) and Gabriela Bran (film/animator). Guest photographer: Farhad Berehman.
'I like this picture because I have my friend with me in it...and it helps me memorise all of those moments.’
'It's good here. You can express how you feel through art.’
'I liked it, I enjoyed it because I didn't have friends and now I have friends from my own country. I'm happy now...I'm much happier than I was before.'
'When I was given the opportunity to come here it was so good that I made friends here and it was so good that everything was getting easier and I was becoming happy again and I wanted to be coming every day if I could.’
'I was not the kind of person who could draw art at all. I learned it here...and I have been really impressed with myself that I can do it.’
‘The group has helped me to express my feelings about missing my mother and father.’
'Everybody respected me here and everybody cared for me here.'