Hearing the voices and learning about the lived experiences of people seeking sanctuary is an important part of being a School of Sanctuary. We encourage schools, however, to not focus on people’s difficult experiences abroad, but also learn about their lives now in the UK and hear the positive aspects of finding sanctuary in the UK. By adopting this approach, students can get a better understanding of the things they have in common with people seeking sanctuary rather than what solely focusing on what is different.
Whilst hearing directly from someone who has sought sanctuary in the UK can be very powerful, schools should consider how to ensure that this experience is positive and constructive for the person sharing their story. Before they come, discuss with them how they wish to engage with students, what they might not feel comfortable sharing and how the school can support them in recognition of them giving their time. For further support and advice inviting a person with lived experiences to speak at your school, see our guidance document: Guidance for Welcoming a Person with Lived Experience to Speak.
There are a wide range of videos available online and books and articles that schools can also use to hear from people seeking sanctuary. This is a selection of just some of the powerful online testimonies of people telling their stories of becoming refugees.
Syrians living in Jordan were asked what it means being a refugee. OXFAM
Maliyamungu Gift from South Sudan tells his story of fleeing to DR Congo. UNHCR
A 7 year-old Syrian girl describes her boat journey to Greece. Also an animation. UNICEF
Julianne from Zimbabwe tells her story. From the BBC’s Seeking Refuge animation series.
Ali from Afghanistan tells his story. From the BBC’s Seeking Refuge animation series.
Melody from Nigeria tells her story following the death of her parents when she was 10.
Choolip tells his story of fleeing the taliban in Afghanistan.
Syria’s child refugeees. The Guardian
The story of a Syrian man who came to the UK. Contains scenes and descriptions of violence and torture.
Human Flow, a documentary by Ai Weiwei as he witnesses refugee stories over a year in 23 countries. Guide.
Douglas Booth interviews Maya Ghazal, a Syrian pilot who lives in the UK. UNHCR
People of Nowhere, a documentary film from Lesvos by Lior Sperandeo. No dialogue.
Then I Came by Boat, the story of Tri Nguyen’s childhood escape from war in Vietnam.
John Cho speaks the words of a Syrian teacher from a refugee camp. OXFAM
North Star Fading tells the story of four Eritreans escaping violence.
British children take part in a Q&A with children from refugee backgrounds. A Guardian and Observer appeal.
My Bright Kite Freedom of Voice project “I would like to be an architect”
Margot Robbie Tells the Story of a Syrian Refugee’s Law Degree
A short animation looking at the history of humankind and human migration.
Manar describes her journey from Syria to the UK. BBC
Saja’s story – a young Syrian girl tells her story of being injured during bombing, her love of school and her hopes for the future. UNICEF
Venezuelan mothers discuss their new lives in Colombia. IRC
Refugees Media contains many accounts of people from the Sahel, Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Syria living as refugees. Also, life in Greece. UNHCR
Conversations from Calais Conversations between volunteers and migrants are documented.
Exodus: Our Journey to Europe. Follow Syrian English teacher Hassan on his journey over five episodes.
Ongoing Journeys is an inter-active multimedia platform. You can access some stories about resettlement in the UK.
The Refugee Council has a number of stories by children and young people about their experiences.
The Man Who Fell from the Sky is the stranger than fiction true story of a most extreme journey. In 2015, two men hid in the landing gear of a flight from Johannesburg to London. One fell to his death, the other survived. This documentary, available via Channel 4, sets out to discover the stories of the men involved.
Judgement on age suitability is of course best left to teachers and schools. The BBFC offers specific legal advice on this matter. See here.