Refugee charity Breaking Barriers is delighted to announce the return of their annual photography exhibition, this year held at Protein Studios in Shoreditch. The theme of the exhibition is ‘Claiming A New Place on Earth’, featuring young adult refugees, some who have travelled to the UK as minors and come of age in this country, portraying the hopes and challenges they face. The exhibition will run for a week from 10th-15th October.
After the success of last year’s exhibition, which featured portraits of refugees from regions including East DRC, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Somaliland in the moment they first felt free in the UK, renowned photographer Caroline Irby has once again shot the portraits, whilst Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist Veronique Mistiaen has worked on the accompanying text. Veronique spent time with each subject talking to them in depth about their experience in order to retell their stories, from the hurdles they faced when they first arrived into the asylum system to other obstacles they encountered along the way.
The portraits of young adult refugees from regions including Iran and Nigeria will highlight the tough living conditions they’ve faced, with personal accounts of their journeys. One such story is that of Emad Izadi, now aged 23, originally from Iran who arrived in the UK unaccompanied at the age of 16. Since arriving Emad has learnt English, supported himself through college and won a place to study biomedical science at Kingston University, however he was suspended last month as he couldn’t pay the full tuition. He wants to become a doctor. Breaking Barriers has been providing ongoing advice, guidance and employment support. In the last year the charity has supported in excess of 200 refugees.
Matthew Powell, Founder and CEO of Breaking Barriers comments ‘At Breaking Barriers, we offer a unique approach to helping refugees find meaningful employment, therefore rebuilding their lives and integrating into their new home. The key to this is the contribution made by the businesses we work with across Greater London. Breaking Barriers develops long-term, sustainable solutions to the issue of refugee integration, by creating partnerships to help refugees overcome the barriers they face to employment.’
The aim of the exhibition is to inform visitors, building awareness and empathy around these individuals and encouraging more people to reach out and support refugees and asylum seekers. The UK is currently home to over 120,000 refugees and receives 20,000 new applications a year for refugee status. Although most have above average education, skills and qualifications and are eager to work, unemployment levels are more than 50% compared with the national average of 6%.
The exhibition is sponsored by leading London law firm Mishcon de Reya which has worked closely with Breaking Barriers over the past year, offering work placements, positions and sponsorship. Mayada from Sudan, who was introduced to Mishcon de Reya through Breaking Barriers, originally joined the company on a six week temporary contract and is now a full time employee. IKEA who are also supporting the exhibition, has worked with Breaking Barriers for the past year to develop a Customer Service Course for refugees living in London around their Tottenham, Croydon and Wembley stores. Currently they employ two refugees from Breaking Barriers and their ambition in 2018 is to expand the Customer Service Course support programme outside of London to other stores across the country.