On Tuesday 11th December, 4:00pm-5:00pm, at Drove Primary School, teachers from Drove Primary School and artists Rachel Pryor and Nicky-Ann Walker will be talking about the inspiration for the new mural, The Journey to Safety and Welcome, that hangs in the entrance of the school, and how it came about as the result of a unique collaboration between children at the school and members of The Harbour Project Art Group. 

The work was begun during Refugee Week earlier this year and is part of an ongoing collaboration between Drove Primary School and Swindon City of Sanctuary through its Schools of Sanctuary work. 

Schools of Sanctuary began in Yorkshire and there are now Schools of Sanctuary in Wales, Ireland and many English cities and towns. Here in Swindon, eight schools are working towards this nationally recognised award. 

A School of Sanctuary is a school that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking sanctuary. This could be people whose lives were in danger in their own country, who have troubles at home or are just looking for a space of safety. 

Artist Rachel Pryor said her work at The Harbour Project made her very mindful of just how important safety and welcome is, “In our art group, people often talk about home. They come to the UK with no network of friends or family and can wait a long time for a decision on their asylum claim. It’s unbelievably tough. Art can help express some of those feelings of loss, which are often better expressed in a visual language. “ 

She added, “I was so impressed how the children helping had thought carefully about the things and people they would miss if they became refugees. Developing empathy and compassion is such an important part of our human development whatever age we are.” 

It is a sentiment with which Cristina Bennett, volunteer Schools of Sanctuary lead, agrees: 

“Schools of Sanctuary is all about embedding a culture of welcome and inclusion for everyone in the school – teachers and teaching assistants, non-teaching staff, pupils and parents. That’s why this mural is so special. It features the work of every single year group, from nursery through to Year 6, as well as the work of our Harbour Project friends. We hope it will inspire all who see it to think more deeply about what welcome means, to reflect on how we cannot take any of our freedoms for granted and, to think about our actions in welcoming people who are new to our communities.” 

This event will also give teaching colleagues and friends the chance to share informally their own School of Sanctuary work since the launch on 17th January 2018. 

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