16th Dec, 2018

Heartbreaking story books made by Coventry young people who lived as refugees

Felix Nobes 6th Dec, 2018

COVENTRY young people who have lived as refugees have created their own picture-books to tell their stories.

They aim to help other children in their position see they are not alone as part of a research project across Nova Scotia, Canada and Coventry, UK.

The project explores both the experiences and the creativity of displaced young people through picture book making.

It has led to the creation of a collection of stories which can now be borrowed from libraries in both countries.

The work brings together researchers from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada; Coventry University; and 40 young people living in both cities as refugees or in families who have experience of being refugees.

The storytellers, all aged between eight and 19, worked with artists to either retell tales from their cultures, share their own experiences, or write about things which helped them to connect with their new communities.

The project launched in Coventry Central Library on Wednesday (December 5).

Senior research fellow at Coventry University Dr EJ Milne said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for young people with refugee experiences to learn skills in art and storytelling.

“These young people, especially those who have recently arrived in Coventry, have often dreamed of writing their own stories or drawing their own pictures but have not had the opportunity so this is a very interesting way of looking at a whole range of experiences through their eyes.

“For others it was a way to finally have their stories recognised, or to tackle stereotypes about their past, including that as refugees they would be arrived in the UK by boat.”

Sorrelle Clements from the libraries and information services at Coventry City Council said: “There is something very different about these books and it is wonderful to see something that is so emotive and which so closely reflects the lives and experiences of children.

“These stories are very special and what the project has done in sharing them and helping other people understand a different way of life is amazing.”

The books are now available for borrowing from Coventry library, and are available as e-books in both regions.

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