Child Migrant Stories was launched in February 2016. It drew, initially, on experiences of people who migrated under the age of 18 from across the world to East London from 1930 to the present day. Some came on their own; others came with, or to join family members who they may not have seen for years. Their stories are of loss and reunion but of resilience too, often in the face of war, poverty and discrimination. They are poignant, powerful and sometimes very funny.
The profiles of the people who generously participated in this initial research can be found at East End Stories. They came from Turkey, Cyprus, Brazil, El Salvador, Poland, Italy, Southern Ireland, Vietnam, Jamaica, Antigua, Guinea, Nigeria, Rwanda, Yemen, Somalia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan at different ages between 5 and 17. Some experiences, drawing on child migrants’ own words, have been highlighted in Spotlight Stories. Four films, developed in collaboration with former child migrants and drawing on their creativity, bring these experiences vividly to life through image, music and art.
The films, available on our website and on YouTube, have been shown in cinemas, museums, universities, schools, community centres and at festivals alongside discussion, workshops and performances. Everyone is welcome to view the films, organise their own screenings or contact us to create a joint event such as a discussion with, or performance by, former child migrants or to highlight the present crisis on child migration. People both locally, nationally and internationally have been able to contribute their own stories or knowledge about child migration on the website blog.
The project was awarded a QMUL Public Engagement Interact Award a year after it was launched in February 2017.
We are now moving into the second phase of the project, ‘Child Migrants Welcome?’ It aims to explore positive and negative experiences of newly arrived children, the importance of friendship, respect for difference and child attitudes to migration.
We are looking for participants who have migrated under 18 to the UK and are happy to contribute either as individuals or a group. We are also for looking for people who have welcomed, or cared for, young refugees and migrants in a formal or informal capacity. We will interview some people but welcome other formats – writing, art, music, photographs, Skype, FaceTime, phone calls and so forth. Some of this material will be integrated into film and multi media installations about Welcome. Other contributions will be integrated into the Share Your Story section of our blog. People can choose to be anonymous, represented through voice not images and nothing will be used without permission. We are committed to creating a respectful and collaborative space.
As part of ‘Child Migrants Welcome?’ we are working with Hackney Museum over the development of a programme for Refugee Week 2017 and leaning materials for school and ESOL students based on the films. We are also developing a sound installation and display at Ragged School Museum for July 2017.
Do email Eithne Nightingale on firstname.lastname@example.org
or ring her on 07949 080 526 if you or others would like to get involved.
Thank you for your interest in and support for this timely and important project.
Writer, researcher and photographer presently studying an AHRC CDA into Children, Migration and Diaspora in the School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London.
This project was inspired by Eithne Nightingale’s research into Children, Migration and Diaspora carried out as part of an AHRC CDA (Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award) between V&A Museum of Childhood and Queen Mary, University of London. Child Migrant Stories was funded by the centre for Public Engagement, QMUL. ‘Child Migrants Welcome?’ is funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund at Queen Mary, University of London.
This initiative would not have been feasible without the willingness and generosity of the child migrants who participated in the initial research and Mitchell Harris for his energy, skill and enthusiasm without whom this project and related films would not have been possible.