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University leads international research project around positive impact of creative arts on refugees

University of Gloucestershire is a lead partner in an international project aiming to show how creative arts can promote integration and wellbeing among marginalised groups of young people, including refugees, asylum seekers and the homeless.

The University’s MA Photography team collaborated on the Arts Hubs for Youth project – co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union – with the Social Action and Innovation Centre in Greece, Artit in Greece and the UK, the Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures in Bosnia-Herzogovinia, and Hub Nicosia in Cyprus.

Each partner carried out research in their own country to find out how creative arts projects, such as photography, graphic design, fashion shows and theatre, had been used successfully to provide refugees and asylum seekers with ways of expressing themselves.

Collated by the University for an Arts Hubs for Youth report, the partners drew on the research findings to write and deliver online modules aimed at teachers and youth leaders to illustrate how creative arts projects could be used to engage with these marginalised groups.

As well as the research and teaching modules, the project includes a permanent online exhibition of images reflecting the traumatic and inspiring stories of more than 40 refugees and migrants from across Europe.

The University will host an Arts Hubs for Youth event, which is open to the public, at Fullwood House at its Park Campus in Cheltenham on 23 March (4pm) to raise awareness of the project and to illustrate how creative arts projects can be used as tools to promote social inclusion.

One of the images from the Arts for Youth project’s online exhibition

Tony Clancy, Academic Course Leader for MA Photography within the University’s School of Arts, said: “The overall aim of the project is to contribute to the integration of homeless people, refugees and asylum seekers into local communities in the partner countries.

“Focusing particularly on young people, it shows how creative arts projects can be used as activities for building social cohesion, and giving expression and visibility to marginalised groups.

“Our event on 23 March will be an opportunity to highlight the findings of our research at a time when asylum seekers and refugees are very much in the news, following the government’s recent policy announcement that led to the controversy over Gary Lineker’s tweet.

“Our partners from Greece, Cyprus, Bosnia and UK will be present to talk about how the project has contributed to the work they’re doing working young people in their countries.

“We will discuss a set of resources produced by the project partners that are freely available to anyone working in this field, and there will be a projected display of artwork from an online gallery of work by displaced refugees.”