Posted: 09 September 2016

Painting solidarity with refugees

Next Saturday, September 17 we will be taking part in the Solidarity with Refugees march in London.

In preparation, we held a banner-making workshop on Tuesday evening where staff were joined by members of local craft groups Debbie Daniel (Craft Guerrilla), Nicola Barron (Homemade London) and Dalia Zermon (Paint Jam London).

The evening started with a number of speeches to get our artistic juices flowing and help us overcome the daunting whiteness of the canvas sheets in front of us.

Inspiration for the march

First up was Ros Ereira, an inspiring film maker and, most importantly, the founder of the Solidarity with Refugees march.

Ros had visited Syria before the revolution on a filming trip and it was through the Facebook pages of friends in Syria that she followed the escalating violence there. When she heard that the EU countries were meeting to discuss their policy towards refugees, and saw there wasn’t a demonstration organised in London, she decided to try to stage something herself.

Initially, her ambitions only went as far as hoping a handful of friends would join her in the rain. The next day the distressing image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach was all over the media. Her event went viral.

With an incredible 90,000 people showing up last year, she hopes this year’s march will keep up momentum, and is delighted that organisations such as The Children’s Society are taking part.

Why we’re taking part

Up next, Peter Grigg, Director of External Affairs, outlined what The Children’s Society, specifically, will be marching for: we will be calling on the UK Government to support refugee and asylum-seeking children to rebuild their lives here. Crucially, he reminded us that these ‘unaccompanied refugee children’ and ‘asylum seekers’ are also humans -  they are children and people just like us.

Paintbrushes almost at the ready, we then heard from Refugee and Migrant Support practitioners Georgina Klein and Louise Kinsella.

They told us about the problems the children they work with face such as isolation and a lack of understanding of the legal systems affecting them.

We heard about the brilliant work they do to support these vulnerable children - from finding them legal representation to explaining the roles of lawyers and social workers - and, most importantly, being there to listen and make them feel heard.

Sending a message to Parliament

Then it was ready, steady, paint as each group set about making their banners!

Channelling all we’d heard that evening, welcoming messages and slogans such as ‘We are all human’ were painted boldly across the canvasses, ready to be proudly carried when we march from Park Lane to Parliament Square.

It was an evening of inspiring talks and creative banner making with an important purpose: to help us send a powerful message to the Government, when we show Solidarity with Refugeesat next week’s march.

Join us at the march 

By Maddy Haughton-Boakes - Campaigns team
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