North East refugee and asylum seekers' stories told in their own words

By Emma

A group of refugees and asylum seekers who now live in the North East have recorded personal stories about their lives as part of a new digital storytelling project.

Curiosity Creative, the North East’s digital storytelling centre, has teamed up with The Comfrey Project, a Gateshead-based charity, to run a series of workshops during which people recorded stories about their lives in the North East, their lives in their home countries and their experiences of seeking asylum in the UK.  

Alex Henry, Founder of Curiosity Creative, explained: “Everyone has a story to tell and of course that includes people who have come to our region after seeking refuge and asylum.

“I hope that this new collection of stories helps people’s voices to be heard, and allows their stories to be told in their own words.”

The Comfrey Project, which was founded in 2001, works with refugees and asylum seekers at their allotment sites across Newcastle and Gateshead. Over 100 refugees and people seeking asylum regularly take part in The Comfrey Project’s group allotment sessions, cooking and craft activities.

Yvonne Mills, who made a digital story, said: "For me the Comfrey Project is a place of care and kindness, but above all a place of fun and conversation.”

"Sharing stories is a way in which humans can create empathy and improve their well-being by listening, working together and solving problems. That's how we like to work at the Comfrey Project. We're about creating an environment where people can literally 'grow' and storytelling is a wonderful tool for doing that.” said The Comfrey Project Communications Officer, Craig Puranen Wilson.

The stories, which are made using audio recordings and photographs, have now been added to the Curiosity Creative online archive of digital stories from the North East. 

The project was supported by The Big Lottery Fund which supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. 

Refugee Week, the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contribution of refugees and promoting understanding of why people seek sanctuary, takes place from 19-25 June 2017.

Listen to the stories. 

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