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Leeds Schools Inclusion conference embraces Schools of Sanctuary

Rose McCarthy (National Streams Coordinator) and Emily Wood, a refugee from Zimbabwe gave a talk about Schools of Sanctuary at the Leeds Beckett’s University Schools Inclusion Conference on February 24th 2015.

100 year 3 student teachers attended and were visibly moved by Emily’s story of seeking asylum. The tutor endorsed the idea that schools should become Schools of Sanctuary and was keen that the education department at the university work toward achieving a Sanctuary award as well. The PowerPoint presentation that was used is a useful resource for schools work.

The conference also showed the play “ My friend Selma” which was a brilliant awareness raiser for children. It involved one girl called Vickie Beesley, telling the true story of 25 refugee children and their families who came to live in an old boarding school in Leeds during the Bosnian war. Vickie’s father was the founder of aLERT, the charity who brought the children and their families to safety from the conflict-ridden country in the early 1990s.

The Beesley family moved in with the refugees in the school, helping them settle in and get to grips with life in Britain. Vickie, made friends with Selma when they were both eight and the story is told from an eight year old’s point of view. Vickie hopes recounting her experience will help combat rising intolerance towards refugees and want to explain to kids why asylum seekers and refugees come to Britain and what we can do to help them.

Victoria is Artistic Director of Terra Incognita Arts, an organisation that specialises in using theatre and the arts to share the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. She would like to show her play “My friend Selma” at schools, conferences etc. and can be contacted on [email protected]