We are delighted to share that ‘Home is a feeling not a place’, a compilation of creative writing from the refugee friends of JRS UK, has been published today.
The short paperback volume is the first published work of JRS UK’s Open Writing Space, featuring poetry and prose written by eight refugees and asylum seekers. The volume explores themes including lockdown, the meaning of ‘home’, the climate emergency, and peace.
The book launched at the Open Writing Space Showcase online event this evening, where contributing authors showcased their work together over Zoom. The 58-page volume is now available for purchase, with all proceeds going towards the work of JRS UK.
This book is a distillation of the energy and imagination of refugee friends – nurtured through a series of online creative writing workshops, led and facilitated by poet, educator and performer, Laila Sumpton, through the lockdown of 2020.
Laila Sumpton said: “During the creative writing workshops we travelled to many places together and shared many moments of laughter. We explored poetry through writing recipes of ourselves, wrote about the experience of the lockdown and also wrote letters to and from the future.
“We looked at portraits and imagined their stories and explored what peace and home meant to us. It was wonderful to connect online, explore these themes as a group and work out how best to express ourselves through poetry, letters and short stories. Many of the refugee friends were new to creative writing and I was really proud of how they took on the writing challenges.”
Han, a refugee friend of JRS UK and contributing author of the book said: ‘Writing is a powerful instrument to communicate and engage with another individual. I hope this book will leave a lasting impression of the powerful voices of the muted people in society, that it will open new avenues of thoughts and ideas which were never considered before.’
JRS UK has always tried to facilitate spaces where creativity and joy can erupt: working with refugees and not simply for refugees. The ideas and skills of refugee friends are central to the activities offered at JRS. We find an environment of empowerment is fostered, within which people feel a sense of ownership over their space. Other activities offered through JRS include the Community Kitchen, the Creative Arts Space and two prayer groups for the refugee women and men who are supported by JRS.
Dallya Alhorri, JRS UK’s Refugee Activities Coordinator said: “This book has allowed our friends to stand up and believe in themselves and show the whole world how creative they are; they can be role models for others and inspire those who believe they can’t do anything while they’ve been refused by the government. I hope with this book you will get to the same level as the writer, see through their words and get to know what they dreamed of; and what a hard time they have been through.”
JRS UK is particularly grateful to the Cardinal’s Appeal and the Sisters of Charity of St Louis for their generous support, which has allowed the fruitful sessions of the JRS UK Open Writing Space to thrive and prosper.
The paperback collection, ‘Home is a feeling not a place’, is available for £10 on the JRS UK website. All proceeds go to the work of JRS UK in supporting those we accompany in immigration detention, and those living in forced destitution due to the UK asylum system.