Refugees benefit from Arts on Prescription initiative

HammondCare’s Arts on Prescription (AoP) has been helping a group of refugees tap into their creative side, from the program’s interim home at the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre.

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The participatory arts program focuses on key themes of creativity, participation and social inclusion. Designed for older, sometimes isolated, members of the community, the program has been adapted to suit the LMRC’s clientele.

The project has been led by HammondCare’s AoP artist, Annette Innis, who said the program had been a cultural journey both for herself and the participants.

“Language was an initial barrier but over time it has not become important as we are able to communicate through the artworks,” said Annette.

“Art speaks all languages. I have learnt a lot about the Iraqi culture and Arabic customs through the participants’ artworks.”

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LMRC’s Family Support Manager, Jenny Jesson, said the program was a resounding success.

“The Arts on Prescription program has gone beautifully – everyone is really enjoying it and you can see how much the participants get from the program,” she said.

“All of the participants were refugees, mostly from Iraq, and issues can come up from time to time. Their art gives them an outlet where they can reminisce or remember. Most of the art work shows peaceful and pleasant towns and villages, prior to any civil unrest and allows them to go back to happier times.

“Art is a very powerful tool and many of our seniors have done art in their past life and now they can do it here, and express themselves in a safe place."

Offered to LMRC’s clients free of charge, the eight-week program enabled a dozen participants to try their hand at a plethora of artistic techniques in the realms of painting and drawing.

The classes artworks will be displayed at the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre midway through May.