Hearing the voices and learning about the lived experiences of people seeking sanctuary is an important part of being a FE College of Sanctuary. We encourage colleges, however, to not focus on people’s difficult experiences abroad, but also learn about their lives now in the UK, their hobbies, hopes and interests and hear about the positive aspects of finding sanctuary in the UK. By adopting this approach, staff and 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, colleges 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 college 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 college, 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 college 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.
Before showing a video, make sure to watch the video yourself, making a note of anything that might be triggering those watching and taking care to give them advance warning and an opportunity to leave.
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
Douglas Booth interviews Maya Ghazal, a Syrian pilot who lives in the UK. UNHCR
Then I Came by Boat, the story of Tri Nguyen’s childhood escape from war in Vietnam.
North Star Fading tells the story of four Eritreans escaping violence.