The experiences and aspirations of refugees living in the UK remain largely unknown to the communities that host them. Before and during their long journey to safety, refugees often experience traumas that may affect their physical and mental health long after the events. Being forced to flee, they have left so many precious things and dear ones behind. However, they come here with memories and stories. This project aims at creating a window through which we are given access to these memories and stories summed up in a few words. These can be words of wisdom, which refugees take as a way of life, poems they wrote, brief reflections on their experiences, as well as works of art like calligraphy and drawings. The main objective of this project is to create a bridge between refugees and the community in which they live and to fight racism and hate with knowledge, dialogue and understanding.
1- Dr Ahmed Khaleel - Associate Lecturer in Arabic (University of York), human rights activist, translator and poet, member of the board of trustees at York City of Sanctuary since 2017 and currently Chair of York City of Sanctuary.
2 - Dr Lucia Aiello, Senior Lecturer in Italian, Chair of the Language Executive, Department of Language and Linguistic Science (University of York), editor of the Journal of LIterature and Trauma Studies.
The project would start in January 2022 and would be completed in 24 months. It involves the collection - via the Refugee Action groups and other organisations supporting refugees in the UK - of a minimum of 100 short contributions from refugees.
According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, “of the roughly 29,500 refugees resettled in the UK from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2020 under the country’s four resettlement schemes, 75% were citizens of Middle Eastern countries, and 18% were Based on this data, contributions are likely to be mostly in Arabic, Kurdish, and Somali, but could also include other languages, such as Pashto and Farsi. The collection of the contributions would be mainly coordinated by the project leader Dr Ahmed Khaleel, who will also act as Arabic translator, with the involvement of other translators from Kurdish, Pashto, and Somali into English.
The collection of contributions would be arranged via:
- email and social media;
- local refugee NGOs, such as RAY, CoS, CARA and RC;
- the organisation of live events hosted by the Refugee Action Groups in North Yorkshire and in the surrounding area (York, Leeds, Harrogate, Hull, Bradford, Sheffield). The purpose of these events is to raise awareness about the project itself and to encourage the participation of refugees.
Contributions are accepted from refugees anywhere in the UK. A selection of them will be translated into English and disseminated via:
- a multilingual publication (‘The Book of Refugees’);
- a one-day event/conference with a selection of contributors presenting their pieces and including the participation of scholars, policy makers and human rights organisations;
- a website to be maintained and updated with new contributions after the end of the project.
Funding is required for:
- organising the events promoting the project and setting up the website;
- collecting and selecting contributions in a range of languages (Arabic, Kurdish, Somali, Pashto and Farsi);
- translating original contributions into English;
- organising a conference to disseminate the contributions.