Pathway Arts

Enabling refugees to tell their story

 

Pathway is a small arts organisation, run by just two part time artists. Yet over the years we have built up a huge network of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as local authorities, arts organisations, refugee and asylum seeker support organisations and more. This means we can draw upon our network to expand our reach and impact, which is exactly what we did with our Ambassador Training.

We understand the plight that refugees and people seeking asylum go through on a daily basis. We hear the issues they are facing – the lack of legal aid, the housing conditions they are put in, the separation from their families and the never ending wait to hear if their case has moved forward – and we understand that the most powerful person to get this information out there, is the person that is going through it.

In September 2017, we delivered a series of training days to empower members of LARA to do just that. With the help of a number of friends, we delivered a series of Ambassador Training days to equip refugees and people seeking asylum to campaign on the asylum process and become ambassadors for every individual going through the system in the UK today.

The idea was to upskill current LARA members in campaiging, and to use it to encourage other refugees to learn more about LARA and potentially join the group. With the help of the Red Cross drop in centre, we got people to fill in a form to explain why they wanted to campaign and act as an advocate for refugees and people seeking asylum.

In total, 20 people signed up, most of whom were seeking asylum, and some with refugee status. The workshop was held over three days in Toxteth and was delivered with the help of Right to Remain, Refugee Action, Migrants Organise, Asylum Matters and Merseycare NHS.

All of our partners ran specific sessions, and with the help of this group we were able to offer training and advice in:

  • Mental health awareness
  • How to tell your personal story
  • How to approach public speaking when you are talking about sensitive issues
  • What is a campaign?
  • Why it’s important to be strategic
  • How the UK government is set up
  • What routes you can take to get your story heard

Throughout the three day workshop, participants worked on turning their own personal story into something they could confidently stand up and talk about. At the end of the three days, each participant stood up to deliver their powerful message, something they can now use when they have future opportunities to speak on refugee rights.

During the presentations, one of the participants said:

I am so angry it is killing me inside. I need to speak out. 

We’re proud that Pathway plays a small part in enabling individuals to do that, and we’re passionate about finding more platforms for our ambassadors to tell their stories.

Of the 20 people taking part, 15 joined the Refugee-advocacy group LARA afterwards, who host group meetings in Liverpool to discuss refugee rights and work on campaigns to improve the asylum process in the UK. You can find out more about LARA here.