Sheffield school puts heart in to art for Refugee Week

Refugee Week at St Catherine'sRefugee Week at St Catherine's
Refugee Week at St Catherine's
Colourful art work formed a major part of activities that were run especially for Refugee Week in a Sheffield school.

A school assembly began the week at St Catherine’s Academy, after which classes began their work based around the main topic of welcoming refugees to Sheffield.

The City of Sanctuary charity works largely with refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield and links in with many other organisations.

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A charity representative and refugee himself, Rodrigo, visited the school and spent time with individual classes.

Pupils learned about the life of an asylum seeker, and how such a journey begins and ends.

Children also contributed to a mass of art work about the experiences of refugees, and ultimately made a whole school collage that was shown in the city’s Winter Gardens.

Their work motivated some of the pupils to take action themselves, in a bid to help refugees locally.

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Three pupils, Chantelle Musindo, Janisha Thomas-Boswell and Haleema Baig spoke to the school’s parent forum with a view to organising fundraising events .

Proceeds will go to to help the work of City of Sanctuary, and support asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield.

Year six pupil Chantelle said: “I think refugee week made a difference to refugees and asylum seekers because the art work could express how we feel about it all.”

Janisha, also from year six, added: “I think we would make refugees feel better about themselves because if they have been going through a hard time and come to a new place it would make them feel more welcome.”

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Fellow pupil Haleema added: “The thing that I liked best was that we had a special visitor come in and tell us about his life story”.

Year five teacher Orla Wilson organised much of the activity.

She said: “It was a very successful week and we used the hashtag #refugeeswelcomeSTC on social media so that people could look at all the work we have done.”

Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’ for asylum-seekers and refugees in 2007, and takes pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety.

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A City of Sanctuary welcomes and includes all asylum-seekers and refugees, and embraces their contributions to the work and life of the city.

Pupils learned that most asylum-seekers don’t have any choice about where they live, but in a City of Sanctuary they know they will be treated with respect and understanding.

In Sheffield, the movement has support from well over 70 local organisations.

Because most asylum seekers come to Sheffield and other cities without any knowledge of their new locality or contact with anyone who lives there, there is a big emphasis on helping to dispel their fears and doubts.

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Efforts are made by people to welcome new arrivals and to include them in activities run by groups or within their new neighbourhoods.

The charity works to find ways of building community between local people, refugees and asylum-seekers, and trains willing volunteers to give talks and workshops to schools and groups.

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