July marks the opening of a new photography exhibition in London, highlighting the positive impact of refugees on society from the award-winning photographer and journalist Caroline Irby and Pulitzer nominee Veronique Mistiaen. Portraits of refugees from regions including East DRC, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Somaliland, will be on display, showing when they first felt free in the UK. The event, being held at The Proud Archivist in London, tells stories of refugees who once fled their homeland through persecution or war but have now found freedom in the UK.
One such story is that of Vejdan Efravi, a cultural and human rights activist from the south of Iran. Vejdan was 14 when he was arrested and tortured repeatedly for protesting against the government. While trying to flee, his team of seven activists were arrested and three were hung. Vejdan’s story of escape took him from Iran to Turkey, through Italy, France and Holland before eventually arriving in the UK in 2003. He is the only one of his team to have survived. Prints of the refugees from the exhibition will be toured across the UK in schools, universities and businesses to raise awareness of the issues refugees living in the UK face.
Comedian and actor Steve Furst will be attending the event as a Breaking Barriers ambassador, alongside a whole host of businesses who have contributed to giving work placements and jobs to refugees. Matthew Powell, Founder and CEO of charity Breaking Barriers, said: “Far too often, we see negative stories in the press about refugees. This exhibition is a chance to highlight the positive impact refugees have had on this country and celebrate renewed freedoms they once had taken away. We’ve met so many inspirational people who have had the most arduous of journeys and lost loved ones, but who are now able to start living again. Caroline Irby’s work in photographing the moments where refugees first felt free in the UK is so inspiring and uplifting, and I want to thank Veronique Mistiaen for also helping bring these images to life.”
Breaking Barriers is a unique organisation that provides an innovative and unparalleled service to address the systemic social and economic issues of integration for refugee communities. They offer a holistic service designed to make sure that refugees can find meaningful employment that is commensurate with their skills, experience and qualifications. By doing so, they help their successful settlement in, and integration with, local communities. As refugees struggle to get their foot on the first step of the ladder and find relevant British work experience, societal pressures and discrimination increase make the task ever harder. Breaking Barriers helps to break this vicious circle. They work with refugees, businesses and throughout society to educate and provide support at all stages.
They partner with leading corporates and organisations to provide sustainable employment: Breaking Barriers has successfully supported over 160 refugees into employment over the last 18 months, working with over 20 businesses in the process.
The Proud Archivist is home to conversation, conviviality and stimulation. They are a thriving cultural & entertainment hub at the heart of the community. Open 7 days a week the venue is there to entertain you and educate you with exhibitions and events. From Art to comedy to history, politics to sport, The Archivist pretty much interested in everything and will be programming events which reflect that. Located on Regent’s Canal in Hackney. Great exhibitions and events accompanied by even better food and drink. By the people who gave you The Gallery Formerly Known As Idea Generation. Alongside the regular program of exhibitions will showcase some of the most interesting and exciting art around.
The event is sponsored by leading international law firm Mishcon de Reya, who has recently taken on a refugee lawyer from Sudan on a 6 week placement.
FREEDOM FROM FEAR: NEW EXHIBITION SHOWCASES REFUGEES’ FIRST ‘FREE’ MOMENT – July 11th-18th LONDON 2-10 Hertford Rd, De Beauvoir Town London 020 3598 2626