In celebration of refugee week, Baytree organised a centre wide day of festivities on Thursday 21stof June. The celebration included a wide range of activities for all the girls and women at Baytree, all focusing on migration, a theme close to the heart of all that attend the centre.

The morning started with a textile printing workshop by Good Makes for our Into School girls. The workshop gave them opportunity to reflect on their own journeys to the UK by drawing pictures relating to their own unique experiences which were then covered in ink and transferred onto tote bags and pencil cases. Their drawings included umbrellas with rain symbolizing the weather in London and an airplane symbolizing their journey.

At the same time approximately 50 beneficiaries from the adult service worked as a team to create a magnificent piece of art (see cover picture). The women showcased their sewing, crocheting, drawing, colouring, origami and collage making skills to create the huge wall piece depicting flags of their home countries, words that mean a lot to them such as ‘human rights’, ‘equality’ and ‘hope’ and things that remind them of their home countries.

Throughout the day women, girls and volunteers where able to help themselves to different flavours from all over the world over an international buffet. Everyone took turns playing music from their home countries for the rest of us to enjoy. To add to this multicultural dining experience, everyone was encouraged to draw and write messages in their native languages on a paper table cloth in front of them.

In the afternoon, a variety of stations were set up for all girls, mentors and mothers to participate in. One of the stations included a workshop on origami-making. Sticking to the theme of migration, the girls learnt how to make different types of origami boats to adorn the centre. They also wrote little messages of hope and hung them inside plastic bottle to create a large ‘message in a bottle’ art installation.

A further creative station featured collaging and creative writing where everyone was able to create individual collages and poems celebrating their own unique identity and stories of migration.

Another station featured a ‘hot seat’ where participants had the opportunity to ask each other questions with the aim of encouraging a better understanding of different cultures and backgrounds. The questions ranged from ‘Where were your grandparents born?’ and ‘What sports are popular in your country?’ to ‘What is your favourite food?’. The activity helped girls, women and mentors to connect whether it was through the realisation of things they had in common or the appreciation of their uniqueness.

Last but not least a video booth was set up in the chillout room where people took centre stage for a few seconds each, sharing a welcome greeting in their own language or a message of hope and solidarity to other newly arrived refugees and migrants.

The workshop was a lot of fun and fantastic way for the girls to express their feelings and hear their peers’ stories as well, realising that they have so much in common.

Here at Baytree we celebrate diversity and the contributions migrants and refugees make to our community and country at large and this day really did nothing else but show what wonders are made possible when we all look out for each other!