Next week a group of young unaccompanied people will get the chance to show off their creative talents through an exhibition being held on Monday 24th March at Embrace Arts. This is the product of a three month collaboration between Charnwood Arts and After18, a local charity that aims to assist asylum seekers in their transition from childhood to adulthood.
The evening will run from 5:30-7pm, and will feature gallery-style exhibition photographs, film screenings and stalls selling hand-crafted jewellery, all of which have been created by the participants.
Leicester youth organisation After18 provides specialist care for refugees struggling to negotiate the difficult steps into the adult world, offering them detailed information and advice about living in the UK so that they can navigate their options and plan for the future. There is a helpline where unaccompanied young people can discuss their concerns, and the organisation aims to give them the support needed to adjust to life in this country.
One important aspect of the scheme is providing activities where these vulnerable people are able to make friends and learn new transferable skills. There are three tenets to this service: a women’s network, a computer lounge, and an animation and photography workshop. The latter will culminate in Monday’s exhibition.
Alison Birch, Operations Manager for After18, stressed the benefits of the arts, commenting that: “These classes have allowed our young people to focus on something other than the difficult and problematic wider issues they face. It has given them the chance to socialise with others in similar circumstances, and to express themselves creatively.”
The charity has been running for just over a year, and Ms Birch added that the arts workshops “provided a new experience. Many of the young adults have low levels of English skills, but they have been engrossed in this project and have had the opportunity to learn specialist techniques that would be otherwise unavailable to them.”
The event will be a showcase of the work that has been done since January, and the public are invited to share in this celebration. Ms Birch highlighted that “The exhibition will be of great significance because their work will be validated at a public event. Some of them have displayed exceptional talent and it has been great to see the developments. It will be a good opportunity to raise awareness, because it is important that these young people have their stories and skills recognised.”
For more information visit: http://www.after18.org.uk/celebration-of-young-peoples-artwork/