By James Easey
Yesterday I attended Welcome is a Radical Act: presentations, screenings, workshops & performance, exploring the impact of welcome in the lives of migrants and refugees at Goldsmiths University. Sue Mayo began the day by reflecting on last year’s conference, re-drawing attention to the metal health of those seeking, or attempting to seek, asylum and how a warm and positive welcome can help dramatically. This theme influenced and underpinned the whole day.
Mita Pujara and Debora Miná introduced their film My Tuppence Worth: radical acts of welcome. This film was a call-out to all those who are welcoming refugees and those from forced migration backgrounds and why their acts are radical. The film featured everything from a speaking table cloth, a table cloth full of many messages, knitting groups, welcome packages, letters, cards, and toiletry packages. The amalgamation of these acts in one film was heart-warming to see. However, Debora and Mita introduced this film against a backdrop of anti-refugee / anti-eu / anti- migration headlines. This collage of newspaper headlines was macro-cosmic, the onslaught of their message was felt. Seeing this country’s tabloid and mainstream media visualised before watching My Tuppence Worth: radical acts of welcome consolidated to me that these acts of welcome genuinely are radical.
The Horniman Museum, Help Refugees and Kathy O’Hare all spoke from a Museum, Charity, and Artist’s perspective. It was great to see in conjunction, the great work the Charity Help Refugees is doing in Dunkirk and Calais as well as the Horniman museum and Kathy O’Hare’s community projects both here and overseas.
From here we went into breakout workshops, I attended Healing trauma, nobody heals trauma alone; what can you do to help? Discussion facilitator Tiago Brando brought a psychotherapy perspective to the discussion. With a diverse range of artists, and community workers in the room we discussed psychotherapy in arts and community projects. We also discussed language and cultural barriers and how the arts and community projects can ease those communications for counselling and the process to heal.
From here the day progressed to brilliant performances from Women For Refugee Women, spoken word from Emanuel Alisigwe and a Film Calais Children: a Case to answer.
Thank you to all performers and speakers and particularly Sue Mayo for organising this event, read more here.