On Wednesday 24th February the JRS team held our first Accompaniment in Action event of 2021 showcasing the wide range of creative activities run at JRS. In a vibrant and joyous evening, Refugee Activities Coordinator Dallya and Outreach Officer Nick invited refugee friends and activity session facilitators, to share their latest work with supporters.
One thing that was very clear throughout the evening was how encouraged our refugee friends felt by the variety of ways in which they were able to socialise with one another, take the opportunity to be creative, learn new skills and build an important sense of community.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, JRS’s activities have had to shift from face-to-face sessions to online groups held over Zoom, but this hasn’t stopped new projects from flourishing.
Ingrid Guyon, Founding Director of Fotosynthesis, shared her experiences of working with our refugee friends throughout the JRS Spoken Pictures photography sessions during the Autumn, and shared the new participatory exhibition which launched on our website this week.
She shared the empowering and uplifting effect that the participatory photography sessions had had on the day-to-day lives of those facing destitution at the hands of the UK asylum system, who are supported by JRS.
Supporters were particularly moved to hear from refugee friend F, who explained a little bit about his work, featured in the exhibition, and the sense of accomplishment and achievement the photography skills had brought him.
During photography sessions F and other refugee friends explored how they can communicate their stories to an audience, by sharing insights in to their lives and home cultures.
Another friend shared her experiences of taking part in several activity groups via a pre-recorded video, and she said:
“We have stress because of this lockdown, because of our papers, because of our health, but when you call us to push us to do something, we forget everything, we laugh with you, we forget our bad things, and we enjoy this group.”
Panellists Beth Organ and Sean Organ also shared their experiences of leading, facilitating and taking part in the JRS Drama workshops, showcasing a hilarious video performance from the JRS Hopes and Dreams drama group.
Speaking about this group, our refugee friend showed her appreciation to JRS for encouraging her to take part:
“Thank you so much for this group because you push us to know our dreams, because we want to be, but we cannot be… But you are the one who pushes us [saying] ‘Oh you can do this, come to this group’ so thank you so much. We appreciate that so much.”
Another friend, Margaret, spoke about her love of performing:
“I love to make people happy. There’s no point in having a drama [group] if people are not happy about it. I don’t like to be bored, I’m a lively person. I’ve always been a dramatist and actor since I was younger.”
Another refugee friend shared the impact the activity groups have had on his life:
“There’s no doubt about the fact that my level of confidence keeps improving since the beginning of this programme. My prayer is that it continues. This programme has been helpful, in terms of communication skills, I’m really, really improving bit by bit.”
It was such a pleasure to share with our supporters the wide range of talent, creativity and energy which fills every activity session we run at JRS. We look forward to sharing more with you from our Community Kitchen group and Open Writing Space which will be up and running again later this year.
Without your generous support and donations, we could not run activity sessions for our refugee friends. Anything you can give today will help empower refugees to learn new skills, showcase creative talent, and build an important sense of community.