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Refugees use creative writing to tell their stories

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Refugees use creative writing to tell their stories

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Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Communities and also in Care and Support, Education

Refugees – many of whom overcame horrific experiences before coming to the UK - are putting together a book of creative writing with help from the University of Leicester.

Undergraduate students from the University’s School of English are helping a group of 12 refugees put their personal tales of struggle and hardship down on paper.

The scheme is being run by the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing in partnership with the New Voices Wagon Project, a Leicester-based initiative for promoting reading and writing among migrant communities - especially as a therapeutic tool.

The refugees – who are originally from all parts of the world - have been coming to the University for regular sessions at the Centre for New Writing, within the School of English.

The project aims to help refugees use creative writing as therapy – as many of the course participants have had terrifying encounters with violence.

The student volunteers are helping copy-edit the writing as well as supporting the participants and generally working towards all aspects of a project.

Eventually, the writing will be brought together and published as a book – with the students responsible for editing the volume.

The book will be launched on 24 May.

Dr Corinne Fowler, Director of the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing, who is leading the project, said:  “When people have gone through terrible hardship and suffering, writing can be both therapeutic and compelling, because of the direct, personal insights into extreme experiences.

“Our students are fascinated by the inspiring group of aspiring writers who have attended the workshops. They have been impressed by the power of writing to engage as well as challenge the reader and to bear witness to some life-changing experiences.

“The students have been humbled by the experience but are also enthusiastic about contributing their editorial and publishing skills to support the group.”

Agrena Mushonga, project co-ordinator at the New Voices Wagon Project, said: "The rest of migrant community in Leicester is invited to take part through attending physically or through interviews over phone, home visits and questionnaires if they cannot attend physically.

“I am also keen to have members of the public who aren't migrants involved in this project, because immigrants exist as part of the whole community.”

The University’s School of English has a strong history of supporting creative writing – especially through The Centre for New Writing and Grassroutes project, which celebrates Leicestershire’s diverse writing talent.

The project, which is based in Leicester, is supported by social charity the Rayne Foundation as part of their Fellowships for Refugees Programme.

It is also supported by Praxis Community Projects, an advice service for new migrants, and Voluntary Action Leicester.

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