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Platforming Students’ Voices and Stories

In Northern Ireland, Glengormley Integrated College works hard to meet the holistic needs of students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds and work closely with a range of partners to widen their provision and packages of support.

One innovative way in which the college seeks to specifically support sanctuary seeking students is through their partnership with Wheelworks, an organisation that uses art and digital technology to help young people experience industry standard technology to broaden their horizons regarding different career paths, and their collaborative programme ‘iArrive’.

‘Arrive’ means to reach a destination but also, to reach a desired level of accomplishment. Synonyms for the latter meaning include flourish, prosper, and thrive. iArrive offers a safe space for newcomer young people to express feelings and opinions using arts-based methods, providing a platform for their voices via new skills in ‘Digital Story Sharing’ using various art-media including photography, filmmaking, illustration, and animation. This digital story sharing project is working with 20 newcomer young people attending the Welcome Hub, a unique provision based at Glengormley Integrated College to ensure that students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds can access transitional education whilst in temporary accommodation.

These children have come from war-torn countries and their journeys here to seek asylum, are both heart-breaking and inspiring. There are obvious and veiled signs of trauma as well as cultural differences. The school provides support for the varied learning needs and alongside other partner organisations they enable young people to face challenges, be confident and be curious, as they adapt to life in NI prior to joining mainstream education.

The aims of the project include:

  • Increase mental resilience and self-awareness
  • Increase their capacity to engage in group activities
  • Offer a sense of ownership and help develop their confidence in making choices
  • Provide opportunity to explore new ways to express their feelings
  • Develop improved life skills while increasing their mental wellbeing

The final digital outputs can be shared by the Welcome hub to showcase what can be achieved by partnering with young people. For example, the outcome created by the participants can be uploaded online and shared across various platforms and digital networks, allowing both local, national, and international audiences to see the legacy that the programme has created and recognise the contributions and strengths of young people who have sought safety. Watch this space for further details!