“Write here, sanctuary” creative writing for refugees and people seeking asylum - Arts & Health
Theodore Stickley, Ada Hui, Michelle Stubley, Francesca Baker and Michael Craig Watson
“Write here, sanctuary” creative writing for refugees and people seeking asylum is a study published in Arts & Health by Theodore Stickley, Ada Hui, Michelle Stubley, Francesca Baker and Michael Craig Watson that looks at the efficacy and affect of creative writing workshops for refugees run by Write East Midlands in three cities – Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
The study looks at the educational, wellbeing, social and satisfaction outcomes of writing groups provided for 144 refugees and people seeking asylum. Bespoke writer-led programmes took place over ten months, with twelve sessions being delivered in each city. People could attend as many or as few as they wished
The aims were to encourage participation in creative activity, enable experience and aspiring writers to share in activities, produce new work and host a showcase event for the local community. Participants asserted that they had improved their English language, wellbeing, and had increased confidence and a sense of hope. The diaries that were kept by the lead writers showed that English language abilities improved; there was an improvement in the sophistication of the literary techniques used; the performance nights were well attended and a demonstration in the improvement of confidence and quality of performance; the groups became a place of sanctuary and identity; links with the local community were improved through the sharing of work and the improvement in language; and the value of enjoyment and discussion.
Interviews with participants demonstrate an improvement in communication skills and learning the English language; increase confidence and ability to speak in front of other people; opportunities to learn about British culture and way of life; a chance to get out of the house and interact with others; improved mental wellbeing and self esteem; forming of new relationships; a chance to process past events and reconcile them with the present situation; and a sense of hope.
The workshops offered an enjoyable and non-judgemental outlet to be creative, improving sense of wellbeing through creative expression. The study shows that creative writing groups may offer one way to enable people who have experienced trauma and displacement to move on, grow, and envision a brighter future.