17 Mar A visit to the Refugee Council’s Day Centre
The Refugee Council plays a vital role in providing support for asylum seekers and refugees who come to the UK, and provides a wide range of services – from free support to families and individuals in their own language, to lobbying and campaigning for positive change to current policies.
I’ve visited the Head Office in Brixton a few times now, and have been fortunate enough to see firsthand some of the work the organisation does with asylum seekers and refugees of all ages – to make their lives in the UK safer and more secure, and to help them find a degree of peace here and to integrate into British society.
On a few occasions I have gone along with my camera to document some of the activities, and provide the Refugee Council with images they can hopefully use in their publications and marketing – above is one such image, taken at the weekly Social Night at the Brixton Day Centre, where young folk get to chill out and have a bit of fun.
Initially many people are wary of my presence, which is understandable – especially when you become aware of what many have gone through to get to the UK, the reasons for them making the journey in the first place, and all they have experienced while being here, and remembering also that these are teenagers – many of whom have arrived here unaccompanied by a parent or adult.
Once folk become more accustomed to me being there taking shots, and ensuring I always ask permission first, there is a range of reactions to my request to take photos – some shy away, some very evidently don’t want to be photographed, a few aren’t fussed, and then others actually approach me, requesting I take shots of them with their paintings, or playing ping pong and table football.
Due to many of the kids being under 18, I composed most of my shots to ensure you could not see their faces, thereby protecting their identity, while always trying to ensure the shot remained engaging.