A very interesting new report, ‘The importance of contact: children’s attitudes towards refugees’, has been released by an organisation called the Employability Forum. It follows a project in London where refugees shared their experiences with children in the city’s primary and secondary schools so they could raise awareness of the reasons people are forced to become refugees. Employability Forum volunteers reached over 100 schools and more than 5,000 children during the the 3 years of the project.

There are some really interesting responses from those surveyed during the project. Whereas before the sessions 71% of pupils said they knew little or nothing about refugees, following the presentations 99% of those questioned said they had an understanding of why people became refugees. And after the visits 99% of the schools themselves said they planned to develop their curriculum to be both more culturally inclusive and do further work on refugees.

Both pupils and teachers said the visits had also helped refugee and asylum seeking pupils to talk about their own experience. The sessions were also very successful in helping to address and tackle some of the widespread confusion and misconceptions that exist about refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. The full report can be viewed at http://www.employabilityforum.co.uk/refugees-into-schools/.

The report is perfectly timed as we prepare our launch Schools and Colleges of Sanctuary here in Bristol on 27th September. It shows once again that positive engagement with schools can help awareness and understanding of refugees and asylum seekers, and in tackling myths and misconceptions. Working with schools and colleges to enable them to become places of welcome, safety and inclusion can only benefit the community as a whole.

The launch of Schools and Colleges of Sanctuary takes place at the City Academy Bristol, Russell Town Avenue, Bristol between 4.30 and 7.30. The launch will feature a number of guest speakers including the Guest of Honour Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol, Mary Prior, local MP’s and representatives from local government and education. There will be also be some great musical entertainment from around the world to help us celebrate a historic event for the City.

If you would like to attend or want further information about the full evening’s programme please contact us at [email protected]

Be great to see you there!

Matt Gillett
Outreach & Project Worker
[email protected]

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