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PhotoVoice&#x2019;s New Londoners project
people negotiating complex ideas about home and place.
The challenge PhotoVoice debated with the young people and others involved in the project was how to bring the stories together, how to structure, &#x2018;package&#x2019; and market the book in a highly politicised environment where issues of refugee representation are extremely sensitive. The young people PhotoVoice has worked with have repeatedly voiced their desire to be treated as young people first and refugees second. The young people are acutely aware of the sensitivities. One participant explained: &#x201C;We have had different experiences from other young people and it&#x2019;s important that other people learn about those experiences, but we don&#x2019;t want them to make us different.&#x201D;
Much debate centred around whether the word refugee should be used in the book title or tagline. The debate centred around questions of identity and labelling: If we don&#x2019;t use the word refugee in the title, how can we describe what it is about and who made the work? How can we challenge old labels without creating new ones? How can we preserve the integrity of the individual voices while also communicating to audiences who they are as a group? How can we ensure the work is judged on its own merit and not because of who made it, as other art is? These issues were discussed in a
workshop. Only one of the young people felt happy about the word refugee &#x2013; &#x201C;this is who I am and people need to know that I am here as a refugee, it will help them understand&#x201D;. Others felt uncomfortable about it. &#x201C;The word refugee is like a judgement for us, people at school will say bad things about us.&#x201D; They preferred to be the term New Londoners. &#x201C;It is an open word. It says something about us, about the fact that we have come from other places, but it&#x2019;s clever because it doesn&#x2019;t give everything away. It gives our identities a place to hide,&#x201D; said one participant.
PhotoVoice was keen to support a new framework for the work where the young people were not being framed according to their &#x2018;refugee- ness&#x2019; but rather the many other things that make them a person. New Londoners aimed to side-step the traditionally limiting portrayal of refugees and asylum seekers as a group of people defined by their immigration status, and provide a voice to young new Londoners through which they can represent themselves as they want to be seen and heard. The ambition is to help re- frame the debate about asylum away from fear, hostility and difference and towards commonality and recognition.
New Londoners: Reflections on Home was launched by Ed Balls at the Tate Modern at the end of 2008. It
features introductions by the journalist and broadcaster, George Alagiah and the writer Hari Kunzru.
PhotoVoice have also published Photography for Integration: Photography as a tool for the integration of young refugees &#x2013; a CD- ROM resource which offers ideas, advice and practical guidelines for groups looking to use photography as a tool to support and enable the integration of young refugees. It is for project managers, youth workers, arts practitioners, teachers, community workers, photographers and anyone else working with young refugees.a
Tiffany Fairey, Founder and Liz Orton, Project Manager, PhotoVoice
For further information: PhotoVoice &#x2013;www.photovoice.org
Project DOST &#x2013; www.thetrinitycentre.org
To get copies of New Londoners: Reflections on Home &#x2013; www.photovoice.org/html/galleryand
Photography for Integration: Photography as a tool for the integration of young refugees www.photovoice.org/html/galleryand
PhotoVoice are interested to hear from regional partners looking to do participatory photography projects with young refugees.
Photos this page: I am not alone by Loria
&#xA9; Loria / New Londoners / Dost / PhotoVoice
When I look at these people I see comfort, these people encourage me &#x2013; this is comforting and supportive
Left: the pictures of my priest and church are my favourites
Right: Lesley, my social worker is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She makes me believe in myself, she gave me hope when I didn&#x2019;t have any. I have become close to my social worker since taking her portrait.
I arrived in the UK in Dec 2005. I live in Streatham Hill with my foster carer. I feel good, happy and safe here. I love going to the cinema, going to restaurants, being around people, surfing on the internet, watching movies, listening to music and eating chicken and chips. My dreams are to be next to my family and to finish my studies. I believe education is the key to success. I hope one day to become a social worker and nurse.
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