As part of Refugee Week, events are being held across the country to celebrate the contributions refugees bring to the UK. This week also sees the launch of InterACT in Bradford, one of the five participating cities this year. InterACT aims to celebrate the contributions young refugees and asylum seekers can bring to their communities. Last Thursday, I went to visit the Bradford InterACT group to introduce them to the project.
One of the aims of Refugee Week is to encourage a better understanding between communities. InterACT has a similar aim of building greater community cohesion and uses social action as a tool to bring together young people from different backgrounds. Each InterACT group is comprised of young people from the local area and young refugees and asylum seekers.
This year, the project is working with Bradford Youth Service and Bradford College ESOL Programme. Initially, young people from both groups worked independently to explore issues in their community through photography. They took photos of a range of issues in Bradford, including littering, graffiti, derelict buildings and vandalism.
Last week, I visited the team to introduce them to the InterACT project. This was the first time both groups of young people had met, so the focus was on games and activities to help them to get to know each other. In the session, the groups presented their photographs to each other and found that they had identified similar issues. The photographs formed a starting point for the team to explore the ‘good’ things about their community and the ‘bad’.
Among the good things they listed diversity, history, sports and culture (including the Bradford International Film Festival). The team then moved beyond the photographs to identify less visible problems in their community. We discussed everything from discrimination and drug abuse to the negative reputation of Bradford (last year voted the place tourists least wanted to visit).
InterACT aims to celebrate the contributions young refugees and asylum seekers can bring to their communities. At 4.30pm on Tuesday 21 June I will be interviewed by BCB radio about InterACT in Bradford. After they have completed their social action project, the final stage of the project involves the team organising a Celebration Event in their community to showcase what they have achieved. I will blog again at the end of next month, after the Bradford team have held their Celebration Event.
Read more about InterACT here, which this year is running in Cardiff, Barnsley, Bradford, Liverpool and Leeds.