Born in May 2006 as a result of the drive and determination of our founder Frances Fox, Art Refuge UK set up two safe creative spaces in Nepal and India in official centres for children, young people and adults in transit from Tibet as a result of political persecution. Since then, thousands of children, young people and adults have taken psychological refuge in the Art Refuge UK programmes in these centres and more recently in the UK and France, where they have encountered a sense of playfulness, had their stories witnessed, discovered a space for a sense of belonging and where they have been encouraged to develop a visual language to help them transition into their new lives.
In Nepal, our growing team of experienced registered art therapists (all visual artists and trauma specialists) have delivered safe art making trainings for local psychologists, counsellors and teachers working with refugees and displaced populations since 2013. In late 2015 and early 2017, our efforts in Nepal focused on sharing our art and art therapy expertise with local carers in coping with the short and longer term effects of the devastating Spring earthquakes.
While we have supported asylum seekers and refugees over the past few years in the UK, largely in Bristol and Belfast, much of our energies have been committed to providing safe creative spaces on the Northern France border with the UK, for refugees fleeing persecution, war and poverty in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Asia. Through the skills of a core team, it has been possible to deliver - travelling from the UK - a weekly programme in the Calais refugee camp of arts-based psychosocial spaces, mostly for adult men and unaccompanied teenage boys, in collaboration with Médecins du Monde , Médecins sans Frontières and Secours Catholique. This work continued throughout the dismantling of the camp and subsequent displacement of the refugees within it and has extended into the Dunkirk camp, hospitals, safe houses and community centres in northern France.