Dr Nigel Shaw
Gathering the information for the music videos was often a distressing experience, hearing from the asylum seekers and refugees why they had to leave their homes, their journeys to the UK and Hull and their experiences of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’, designed to deter refugees from coming to the UK. However, it has also been an uplifting experience and a real pleasure to work with the asylum seekers on the songs, to see how talented and accomplished they are, and to meet and work with the volunteers and workers of the Open Doors project. I was also pleased to be able to provide some skills workshops at Open Doors, based on those that I normally offer for research students at the University.
My only regret is that the Covid-19 lockdown intervened in our work on a fourth song. But we will resume work to complete ‘We Are The Song’ once social distancing restrictions have eased sufficiently to allow us to record sanctuary seekers’ performances and their input to the music and visuals.
I was struck by the similarities between some of the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and those highlighted in Stolen Lives, a previous collaboration between the University of Hull, the NASUWT and Paul Field which looked at human trafficking and modern and historic slavery. War and the uprooting of populations makes people so vulnerable to others’ greed and exploitation. I was honoured that the sanctuary seekers who participated in the project were willing to share with me their experiences of facing such vulnerability, and I pay tribute to their resilience and to the care and welcome they and the Open Doors staff and volunteers offer to others.
I hope the videos provide helpful prompts for reflection and discussion. We would welcome your thoughts and feedback on the project.
University of Hull