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Child in a Strange Place

Earlier this year City of Sanctuary in Manchester worked in collaboration with Theatre in the Quarter, (Chester) on a family-focused theatre production, (The Lost Boy). It told the story of a young refugee boy who arrives in a British seaside town in the months following the UK’s decision to vote to leave the EU. Told through the eyes of the refugee boy and a local girl, The Lost Boy highlights how a community deals with change and ultimately acceptance.

City of Sanctuary worked alongside the producer, (Jo McLeish) and playwright (Stephanie Dale) providing them with access to young refugees who were willing to be filmed and interviewed about their experiences of leaving their homelands and arriving in the UK. Their personal accounts were then projected into the theatre show and used in educational workshops that ran across Chester/shire in the lead up to The Lost Boy production. The show received two 4* national reviews and a wealth of positive feedback from the audience and schools alike.

An ongoing relationship between Theatre in the Quarter and Jeff Morgan, Trustee of City of Sanctuary in Manchester, continues to enhance the development of this work, with regular meetings taking place. Jeff was also a guest speaker at the pre- show discussion of The Lost Boy on its press night and provided an editorial piece for The Lost Boy programme. Jeff has committed to future presentations and panel discussions as and when required as this project developments. He continues to promote the project and indeed Theatre in the Quarter at conferences, to schools of sanctuary and beneficiaries of City of Sanctuary.

Theatre in the Quarter has since gone on to secure further funding to develop the project- by creating an educational/participation project that involves a film and a music performance highlighting the experiences of refugee children and how they adapt to life in the UK and starting school in a new country. (Working title- Child in a Strange Place).

How City of Sanctuary is continuing to support Theatre in the Quarter-

The research and development of Child in a Strange Place will begin in early 2018. Theatre in the Quarter needs to be able to visit refugee families (across the UK) in order to gain an insight into their stories, their experiences and their hope and dreams for the future.  These first- hand accounts will then be recorded and used as part of the film and music project. Theatre in the Quarter will exercise a complete duty of care towards any refugee family that agrees to be interviewed- their privacy and anonymity will be respected at all times. (If they are happy to be photographed, that would be brilliant, however it it not a requirement of them sharing their story).

Jo McLeish, (Producer) and Matt Baker, (Artistic Director) are more than happy to visit families beforehand in order to go through the project in detail before any of the families agree to be interviewed and are willing to travel wherever in the UK to visit such families. Ideally five refugee families are needed from a diverse range of countries, who are willing to share their experiences and that of their children.

Backgrounds on Jo and Matt.

Both Matt and Jo are DBS checked and have many years of experience of working in communities with young people and disadvantaged client- groups.  Matt has over ten years experience of engaging young people in theatre-based activities and Jo have over a decade of experience of working for national and regional charities such as Home-Start, Barnardos and Childline.

Theatre in the Quarter prides itself on telling authentic, case-study led stories and as such it is paramount that ‘Child in a Strange Place’ relies on true-life accounts of refugees experiences in order to be able to create a change in attitude and challenge media perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK today.

If you do have any families who are willing to take part, or if you’d like to find out more about the project both Matt and Jo are more than happy to make contact with any local City of Sanctuary group. For more information, if you have further questions, please contact Jo McLeish on [email protected] or 07801565623