Refugee exhibition spreads message of hope

An innovative exhibition made in Lancashire is to tour schools and festivals to help spread a message of hope.

Thursday, 5th January 2017, 11:55 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:02 pm
Joe Howson and volunteer Shelagh Richardson outside the Journey to Sanctuary installation

The Lee House Centre for Mission Awareness, based at Thornley, near Longridge, created the pop-up exhibition to raise awareness of the plight of refugees. It focuses on the story of one woman and her children and the decisions she must take as she flees her war torn country.

Centre Director Joe Howson and a team of helpers, including Lancaster based filmmaker Mark Rotherham, designed and built the mobile installation of walk-through rooms which takes visitors on the Journey To Sanctuary.

The installation is designed to be lightweight enough to transport, but is also strong, adaptable and secure.

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Joe said: “The aim is to develop a sense of empathy with people who are refugees seeking sanctuary.

“The idea is connecting with a human being, with their story. Once we connect at the human level I think you get the move to compassion rather than hostility or fear.”

He continued: “We aim to challenge prejudice and change negative perceptions and stereotypes. Where there is indifference we aim to raise awareness, understanding and empathy. The sound track tells the story of a refugee that is common to lots of refugees. It’s not any one person’s story. It’s generic.”

The refugee escapes from war-torn conflict to a camp, travels in an overcrowded truck, deals with immigration officials and is sent to a holding centre, before eventually finding a place to call home.

The idea to create the installation chimes, said Joe, with Lee House’s own history, as a centre where priests were welcomed from overseas to say Mass in days when Catholicism was outlawed.

Journey To Sanctuary will visit Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic High School at Bamber Bridge next month and also has bookings in Bolton, Blackburn and Manchester.

The charity charges £485 for a week’s use. To find out more, contact [email protected]