Pathway Arts

Photographing life as an asylum seeker


In one of our projects, we asked participants if they wanted to take disposable cameras away to take photographs of their life. We encouraged them to take images of anything they wanted to. Perhaps they could take images of their day to day routine or images of their loved ones. Or they could simply take images of the things around them that they found interesting.

We told the participants that there was an opportunity for these images to go into exhibition.  But that wasn’t a prerequisite. We also explained that if participants wanted to take personal photographs they could have these printed for themselves and there was no pressure to include them in the exhibition. This was important. From our experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers, we had come to understand that they often have no images of their family, no personal possessions. This is especially pertinent for parents who had children born whilst seeking refuge.

The main two themes that came out of these photos were the importance of family, and that a life of an asylum seeker revolves around time; constantly waiting to hear about their safety and the safety of others; waiting for support on applications; waiting to hear a response. Many people also have long bus journeys to try and find support from charities. These can often be convoluted journeys that have to be repeated many times for possibly years until a decision has been made.

The images that were created formed part of our Banners project and have been displayed in various places since, helping to show people what it means to seek asylum in the UK.

All images taken by participants as part of the Banner Project