During Refugee Week 2022, 30 schools in the Wirral jumped at the opportunity to get involved with a brand new project developed with support from the Wirral Deen Centre. The project – The Journey of the Travelling Suitcase – aimed to help schools lead focused learning on what it means to be seeking sanctuary and the experiences of those who do, whilst also encourage them to find practical ways of supporting those seeking sanctuary in their local area.
As part of the project, suitcases were packed with books on sanctuary themes and resources for learning activities and then passed between schools who could share with one another about what they had done whilst they had the suitcase to inspire the next school participating.
One activity included writing cards of welcome and guidebooks to the local area for those who were newly arrived. Students wished the newest members of their community a happy future, whilst suggesting some of their favourite places for a visit, which included the local marine lake and (naturally!) McDonald’s.
A key element of the project was for each school to produce welcome handkerchiefs which they then stored in the suitcase for the next school to see and add to. At the end of the project, these welcome handkerchiefs will be sewn together in a banner of welcome to be displayed at the local refugee organisation.
A handkerchief can:
- be knotted to remember things
- provide protection- first aid or the sun
- be made stronger with more than one or when knotted together
- be big or small
- wrap a gift
- be square but changed into other shapes
- be a sign of rescue
- be waved as welcome
The project culminated with a shared event, where the suitcases were opened by students, parents, people from the local refugee support organisation and people seeking sanctuary themselves to see all the work the students had done and admire the creativity of the handkerchiefs. Together, attendees shared words of kindness, food and poems to celebrate Refugee Week and importance of welcome for people seeking sanctuary.