ROUTES/HERE: an online group for those who support young displaced people in Bristol and the surrounding counties
ROUTES/HERE has been forming organically over the last three years and was born out of our art and art therapy groups with young refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol (2017-2020). Our Bristol lead, Sarah Robinson and local Intercultural Trainer and foster carer, Alison Clarkson Webb, talked in 2017 about how we had identified a need to deliver a space to bring together the people who support young people in Bristol and the surrounding counties.
This year's shared global and local experience of the impact of coronavirus has led us to think about how we can continue to support the young people when online youth groups have seen a reduction in uptake, and so it seemed timely to launch our six week online pilot project during summer 2020.
The success of the pilot has 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.
New themes are explored each month with elements of art making, self care, psychoeducation and training., all with the shared focus of strengthening the network around these young people.
PROJECT UPDATE: CORONAVIRUS
Lockdown in spring brought its challenges to the way we deliver our art and art therapy workshops and so we trialled an online version of our workshops with Creative Youth Network for six weeks. The young people we worked with preferred to meet face-to-face and so we adapted our offer to create a reflective and engaging space for our colleagues at Creative Youth Network and The Basement. This has led to a training session tailored to the needs of these two organisations, and the planning of two Afghan Box Camera workshops in September 2020 to bring this particular project to a close.
Including analogue and digital, experimental and traditional photography, film/animation, outings, exhibitions and guest photographers, our year long Photography Project 2019-20 hereiamhereweare is taking 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.
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, East Central Bristol Children’s Services, and Bristol Refugee Rights. 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 an unknown urban environment.
Perhaps most surprisingly has been the introduction of the Afghan Box Camera into our practise in Bristol supported by Iranian photographer Farhad Berehman. The camera allows us to create a mobile, miniature dark room that we can transport from location to location, enabling young people and budding photographers the chance to grasp for themselves the mechanics of photographic production in diverse and open spaces.
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 art therapy groups .
'It's good here. You can express how you feel through art.’
'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.’
‘The group has helped me to express my feelings about missing my mother and father.’
'I like this picture because I have my friend with me in it...and it helps me memorise all of those moments.’
'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.'
'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.’
'Everybody respected me here and everybody cared for me here.'
postponed until we can meet again in safer times
Art Refuge and Farhad Berahman decided to postpone the Afghan Box Camera workshops on the 18th and 19th September until we can meet safely.
For more information, and to put your name on the list for these workshops, please email