In January 2014, the West Yorkshire Playhouse became the UK’s first Theatre of Sanctuary, part of the larger Sanctuary Awards initiative launched by Leeds-based charity, the City of Sanctuary movement.
Now, the theatre has been awarded £25,000 by the Asda Foundation, to support refugee and asylum seekers. Among other things, the grant will enable the theatre to develop creative writing and poetry workshops, establish a conversation café offering companionship and English-speaking development, host special events that promote understanding and celebrate cultural diversity, as well as continuing initiatives such as Asmarina Voices, a choir for refugee and asylum seeking women led by professional musician Sophie Jennings.
Zenvy, a member of Asmarina Voices, says, “It can be lonely not having places to go and people to meet with – but this is my opportunity to have time for myself. When I come to the choir, I can forget the things that stress me – even just for an hour. I feel welcome. When people are warm to you that is very important”.
Artistic Director James Brining says, “As well as producing theatre, the Playhouse also works behind the scenes providing a range of creative, supportive activities for people who otherwise face real isolation.”
Mary Brandon of the City of Sanctuary is delighted to be working with the Playhouse to address the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.
For more information visit https://www.wyp.org.uk/
Image: Rob Freeman