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Projects Posted • 28 Sep 2023

Soap Box

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Stand and Be Counted Theatre has worked for the first time with a group of mainly Muslim people seeking sanctuary (including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants) in Bradford, supporting them through the arts and culture to amplify the often unheard voices of new communities in the UK.

Project Partner: Stand and Be Counted Theatre
Project Lead: Firas Chihi & Rosie MacPherson
Location: Bradford
Overview

Soap Box was a weekly creative programme for people seeking sanctuary in the City of Sanctuary, Bradford. Run by Stand and Be Counted, the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary, the sessions have supported participants to explore and develop a wide range of performance making techniques for both live and digital platforms, building confidence, networks and language skills.

Video credit: Ai Narapol

Co-created with former participants to identify the most accessible ways of providing wellbeing support and high-quality arts opportunities for people seeking sanctuary, the programme brought a range of artists to work closely with participants to facilitate their ideas. This is Soap Box’s debut in Bradford and sessions developed responsively to reflect the wishes of the group at all times and support them to realise their ambitions.

The project culminated in an interactive recipe book containing a mix of recipes across all these Muslim communities - which has provided a platform for participants to link back to their stories, culture, and countries.

Images credit: Smart Banda

The Impact

There are specific barriers that Muslims seeking sanctuary face and, through arts and culture, the project has supported participants to manage isolation, hostility and stress. Giving them a platform to showcase their creativity, Soap Box has provided them with the tools to make their voices heard, celebrating and promoting the multi-faceted nature of every participant, shifting what audiences might expect and undermining stereotypes of people seeking sanctuary.