To celebrate Refugee Week 2022 we hosted a week-long art installation in the centre of Guildford. The theme of Refugee Week 2022 was 'Healing.' Healing is about the possibility of starting again. Nobody understands this better than those who have had to flee their homes, are away from their families and have to build new lives alone and in new and foreign places.
When we started planning this exhibition, we spoke to young people we support about what Healing means to them. The answers were varied, but all held the common theme that Healing is not a linear journey but one filled with ups and downs, setbacks and moments of hope.
The vast majority of young people Big Leaf work with are living in limbo, waiting (sometimes years) to hear if the Home Office has approved their asylum application. This is a profoundly anxiety-inducing situation that often compounds existing trauma and distress. It can be incredibly hard to process trauma, settle into a new community and even think about Healing without knowing whether you will be allowed to stay or be deported back to the country you fled.
One thing we do know feeling alone only worsens the situation. We have seen the positive impact that building friendships, connecting with the community and participating in activities that support well-being have upon the young people we support. In the long term, once asylum applications are granted, these activities can support a meaningful Healing process.
We hope you enjoy this exhibition and find it as thought provoking and compelling as we do.