Refugee twinning – how you can help

We are looking for two kinds of help:

  1. Time and skills – we have various projects in development and need lots of different skills to make them happen. Seethe latest info on our project website Refugeetwinning.org
  2. Money – either a donation, or set up your fundraising campaign to make a contribution. See our Just Giving page here

Refugee camp report back

As some of you already know, Bold Vision team member Catherine went back to the refugee camp in January to try to pilot some of our twinning projects. Here are some of the outcomes she could report on.

the road

IMPACT EVALUATION of first projects: This was the primary reason for the visit. If weAz eval can’t show what we did made any difference then it will be hard to raise funds for future projects. We were delighted to see the data confirmed our hypothesis based on all of the work Artmongers and Bold Vision have done – that empowering refugees to change their environment builds connections and increases well being. We looked at a village on the camp where Artmongers did not do any work (control group), and one where they did (affected group), and gathered wellbeing data both before and after the intervention.

impact

As you can see from the chart, the affected group showed a significantly better change in wellbeing over the last six months, especially the women. Staff on the camp confirmed there had been no other interventions that could account for this.

A couple more houses had been painted in the vicinity of Hope Square.Az paintedThey were keen to show me what they had done for themselves. And I saw Peace Rocks in the office. It is unfortunate that the increased security in place since activity increased in Syria greatly restricted the time I could spend in the camp, but I still had many heartening interactions with refugees, staff and volunteers.

Going back was an important step in developing our relationship with the camp. Some staff and some children were the same and remembered me from the July visit. They were surprised and reassured that we were back and much more confident when I said that we would be back again. They see a lot of visitors – there were 3 delegations while I was there this time – but they don’t often see people twice. They saw that we mean it. That we want to be with them.

SEWING CIRCLES: There are many traditions of women gathering to makeAz sequinsthings together. Creating bonds and community strength as they do. Quilting circles among American pioneers, arpillera groups in Peru – even our own knitting group in Telegraph Hill. We gathered materials from local residentsAz sewand friends, from a sympathetic shop owner in Brick Lane, from materials donated to new Cross Learning. Because of police restrictions in the camp it wasn’t possible to run the sessions in among the shelters, but the staff helped gather a group of women and girls to meet at the communityAz embroiderycentre where about 20 of us experimented with sequins and designs and embroidery thread. One or two of the girls knew some things and I loved seeing their pride as they showed their friends how to thread a needle. Others had no idea and required my (fairly rubbish!) sewing tuition. By the end, they all knew how to thread a needle with the right length of thread, tie a knot in the end, and do chain stitch. It’s a start. I hope they experiment some more with the left over scraps and start to imagine. Maybe if they take their sewing home their grandmothers will remember and show them more

BOOK DONATIONS: thanks to book donations from around the hill, andAz bookssome helpful rule bending by the British Airways check in desk, I managed to take about 40 children’s books to the camps. They were all English which isn’t ideal but I read some of them to groups of children – with enough sign language, the pictures and the odd bit of English vocabulary, we collaborated some understanding of the stories. They liked the idea of a mobile library and we evolved that into a mobile story telling unit. On our next visit we will organise that so that stories can go to the children, maybe with some activities and a few stools or cushions to create pop up story telling circles. When they build the library on the camp later this year this will work well together. Since my visit \I have also made contact with an Arabic book publisher and an organisation creating the first spoken book materials in Arabic to help those people with low literacy also access learning and entertainment.

SONG EXCHANGE: Before going to the camp, Catherine met with Byron, the music coordinator at Edmund Waller and he invited some of the children to perform some traditional English songs. While she was there, Catherine explained Incey Wincey spider (!!) and gave the children’s activities leader the words and actions. He will teach the children in the camp the song and send a film back to Edmund Waller. He will also film them singing a traditional Syrian song so children here can learn it. We hope one day they can sing together over live streaming. Note that in both locations this is being treated as a regular song exchange. The children don’t share information about their stories / circumstances and the videos will not be published anywhere.

NEXT STEPS

  • They agreed that they would like more squares like Hope Square to be made so we are looking for ways of funding the £15k it will cost to do 4 more.
  • We will make a shorter version of the video with a voiceover which they will then get agreement for so we can publish it online
  • I will write a report based on the impact evaluation with a view to getting more funding
  • With more staff connections on the camp, we will make sure the next visit is a step forward for these other projects and maybe the next ones
  • We will send them photos of Peace Rocks in the Telegraph Hill Festival

Az sunset

Bold Vision friends’ gathering 7pm Nov 26

BV orgBold Vision belongs to all of us… so we thought it was time you had more of a say.  We hope you can join us for our first friends’ gathering!

Please join us 7pm, Nov 26 at the Hill Station
It’s about a year since we got together for the last conversation about Bold Vision (see the feedback here) and we would love you to join us to take the conversation further.
This will be more of a family affair. We will give everyone a drink when they arrive and there will be a bar available. But really this is a working session – the first of its kind but something we will hold regularly from now on.
We hope to cover:
  • A quick review of Bold Vision: its structure, role and projects
  • The challenges and opportunities we are facing
  • Your ideas for WHAT we should be doing, HOW we should be doing it and the resources we will need

What happened during the last year?

As you may well be aware already, the last year has seen some changes for Bold Vision.

At the Hill Station, we saw the departure of Stephen from the business – we really appreciate his huge contribution and energy over the last couple of years. And now Jacqui is doing a great job of putting her own stamp on the place with lots of events and a cosy new look.

Grow Wild – which Bold Vision has always been part of – is now under the Bold Vision umbrella and still carrying on with smaller projects even after the end of the Big Lottery grant.

The Refugee Camp Twinning project has been in play for about six months since our successful crowdfunding earlier in the year and we have some exciting possibilities developing to create real and human links between our community and theirs.

New Cross Learning continues to go from strength to strength. It looks better thanks to the makeover at the beginning of the year, and activities are flourishing. Thanks largely to community run libraries and the adaptability and openmindedness of NXL and others like it, Lewisham is one of the only LAs in the country with increasing library usage.

On the Bold Vision management team we have seen the departure of Susan and Patricio – who have been there from the start and made a huge contribution over the years and Deborah who has been involved during her London seasons. Meanwhile we have welcomed great new input from Anshu and increased involvement from David. Clare has done a great job this year of getting the accounts clear across all the projects.

We are always keen to get new ideas and new people involved so please shout if you are interested. All our meetings are open to everybody and published on the website

Best wishes

The Bold Vision Team

London Dance Orchestra Swing Quartet Nov 18

The London Dance Orchestra has offered to send a Live Swing Quartet to the Hill Station, with a view to starting another night for dancers down this way!!

You’ve heard them at Wilton’s, at Swan Wharf, and currently on Tuesday nights at the Scolt Head in Dalston; if not, here’s a clip from their latest album (not yet released!  You heard it here first!). With over 15 years of playing for dancers, they know what we want, and they get a buzz from playing for us, so it’s an ideal situation!!

We’re going to run our first dance together, Wednesday 18 November, from 8:30 – 10:30 pm.  0ad45153-c34d-48e1-91c9-2bc7c6bc194e

And here’s the deal.  We are limiting this one to 40 max, so we’re asking people to let us know ahead of time that they want to join us, to be sure they get in.  And because you have helped me before, if you want to get in at the beginning, here’s your opportunity!

There will be a cash bar.

Tickets: £7; £5 concession if you book with me (Deborah, endwellroad@virginmedia.com) in advance; £10/£7 on the door.  If you want to volunteer (set up, clean up, bar, DJ, door), well, you get in free, of course!

Ps. If we decide to continue, we will need help to do this on a regular basis — people who can get the word out, maybe teach a lesson, prepare fliers, set up FB events and pages, help set up and clean up and for the bar.  If you want to help make this an on-going event, let me know when you book.

Can’t wait — Robin is really committed to his music and making it the best possible with the best musicians he/we can afford.  Hope to see you there.