Borderlands Art Table Manual

Borderlands have produced a booklet for those interested in setting up an Art Table for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, based on their experience at Borderlands Drop-in Centre, Bristol.

Borderlands have produced a booklet for those interested in setting up an Art Table in a drop-in centre for asylum seekers and refugees. They may not have great confidence in themselves as artists – nor may they have had teaching, counselling or psychotherapy training. This may make them reluctant to put themselves forward.

The booklet reassures them that these limitations do not preclude them from taking on the role. However, because of the circumstances in which asylum seekers and refugees find themselves, there are certain matters that the prospective Art Table facilitator needs to consider and take into account. These are outlined in the booklet.

The three authors of the booklet all work with refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol and meet several times a year to learn from each other. They come from a variety of backgrounds, within the caring and teaching professions, and  because of their different backgrounds, they bring a variety of approaches. These approaches are used in a pragmatic way, according to the situations which the users present and the skills and approaches of the facilitators working at the Art Table at the time. The range of the authors backgrounds and experience should encourage readers of this booklet to bring their own particular skills and experience to the rewarding role of being a facilitator at an Art Table in a refugee drop-in centre.

These convictions are supported by objective evidence. Involvement in the creative arts has been shown to improve health and wellbeing (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, 2017). There is also evidence that these benefits extend to refugees (Phillips, Bradfield, Hogan, Sheffield, & Baker, 2018). As well as health and wellbeing, it has been shown that involvement in the creative arts improves societal cohesion and improves self-confidence and initiative (Matarasso, 1997). For those who manage drop-in centres and those who work as Art Table facilitators, such evidence provides a powerful incentive to make sure that their users have access to the creative arts in a safe and meaningful way.

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