It’s Not Farewell – It’s See You Later From An Afrocats Project Assistant
By Vicki Leigh
This week was a bittersweet one as an Afrocats project assistant on our outstanding Youth of the World programme – because, for now, it was my last one on session with our amazing young people, many of whom are of refugee, asylum seeker and first-generation British heritage.
It was time to feedback about what future activities they would like to take part in as well as a *drum roll* an exclusive screening of their animated short film facilitated by Toby - and presentations of their favourite handcrafted accessories alongside Loren since the beginning of this year’s January programme.
We then rounded off with some ultra-cool dancing with founder Magdalen – a great way to let off some steam!
And after the team gave out Easter eggs, Manchester Literature Festival also came by with a treat of free books – now there’s something none of our young people could refuse!
It has been quite the journey for me as a project assistant too - in November 2021, I wrote my first Afrocats blog post about my experiences seeing refugee puppet Little Amal in person for the first time with founder Magdalen.
Little Amal was passing through Manchester on her ‘When The Birds Land’ passage through Europe in solidarity with Syrian refugees’ harrowing treks to find safety, and she made an indelible mark on everyone who witnessed and interacted with her.
Because of that blog post, I was inspired to capture the weekend goings-on on our Youth of the World programme at Cross Street Chapel, documenting what our young people get up to in a world where creative outlets and broader horizons are not always accessible to them.
Where Afrocats step in to actively support, engage, empower, and collaborate to make sure everyone feels included both on session and after it has ended.
Just some of the spectacular highlights from the past year have included:
Standing onstage alongside Magdalen as Afrocats received a Spirit Of Manchester Award in October 2022
Discovering First Nations arts and culture
Reading our young people’s inspirational poetry and watching them have fun developing circus skills
And dancing the Palestinian ‘dabke’ folk dance
I was even given a lovely card signed by our young people and team members – and some chin chin! Africa’s Finest, no less!
But before anyone begins welling up, don’t worry, I’m not totally disappearing!
I’ll now be working on raising more funds so that refugees and asylum seekers can enjoy even more consistent arts and cultural provision in and around Manchester, especially as there are now tens of thousands residing in the northwest of England alone according to the North West Regional Strategic Migration Partnership for 2022.
And I know everyone is in good hands with Edel, Estee and all our fantastic volunteers and project assistants that pass through Afrocats’ welcoming doors.
Our wonderful team is the driving force behind our projects and events, and it’s awe-inspiring to see everybody grow as well as our young people and participants. I can’t wait to see what’s next for everyone.
So remember everyone, this isn’t ‘goodbye,’ it’s a ‘see you soon!’
Catch you later😊
Find out more about how you can support Afrocats’ ongoing vital and inclusive work in Manchester here.