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Helping asylum seekers tell their stories through new video project

Date published: 22 December 2022

Read time: 2 minutes

A group of Customs House service users and Newcastle Building Society colleagues stood outside of the Customs House.

Download the press release here.

Asylum seekers in South Tyneside are expressing their creativity thanks to a new project at The Customs House, with the help of a grant from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation.

'Chill & Chat’ encourages mental and emotional wellbeing through the arts and was set up earlier this year by The Customs House as part of its work to widen access to artistic and cultural experiences.

The weekly sessions bring people together to create photography and videography projects that tell their different stories, whilst helping tackle social isolation and promote positive mental health. The completed works will eventually be shared publicly.

A grant of £2,400 from our Society has paid for the materials and equipment required to run the sessions, room hire and refreshments, as well as a professional tutor to guide the participants on their creative journeys.

Margarita Rebolledo, community engagement officer at The Customs House, says: “Many of our participants have had a very tough time in getting to our community, and in their present situations, they don’t have much time or opportunity to think about much more than their everyday existence in a strange new place.

“As well as providing the chance to express their creativity and take on new ideas, our sessions have a positive benefit to participants’ well-being and mental health, give them a chance to socialise in a supporting environment and make new connections with people who may have had similar experiences to them.

Find out more about our Community Fund grants here.