Kirklees Linking Programme follows a programme of linking called Carry My Story; this is a cohesion project working within schools and their neighbourhoods, with the aim of linking schools, parents and refugees through the exchange of personal and community stories. The programme has been running since 2006 and is going from strength to strength. In 2019/20, we were excited to see engagement increase to a fabulous 54 classes from 35 schools; over 1,500 children! There is a real buzz around this programme, linking members of the community of all ages from across the area. We have been able to continue some of the exchanges, in a socially distanced way, even through lockdown!
Carry My Story
Each school links together with one another and/or a local community group. Many involve parents or family members throughout the programme. Schools and their partners explore personal stories of identity which are related to the 4 Key Questions. These stories are exchanged with their linked partners and some are selected for interpretation. So schools are quite literally carrying one another’s stories and the stories of refugees, thinking about them, learning from them and giving them back in the form of a song, dance, play, artwork or presentation. These interpretations are usually shared at a final celebratory event involving all schools, parents and refugees.
During the lockdown, Wellhouse Junior School continued to make use of their Carry My Story story jar provided by Syrian refugee and beekeeper Ryad Alsous as part of their home schooling programme and Zoom sessions. When a few of the children returned to school recently, the assistant head agreed to welcome Ryad and Kim to their school garden so that the children could talk to him and ask him questions in person.
Ashbrow School, Huddersfield, also welcomed Hussain and his wife Dilxwaz to their beautiful school garden where they could meet a small group of children at a safe distance. Hussain and Dilxwaz are from Kurdish Iraq where the family was persecuted and threatened because of Hussian’s Kurdish music. He plays the Saz and was a teacher in Iraq as well as a performer.
The children asked questions about Hussain’s music and the saz, their life in Kurdish Iraq, what they miss, the significance of the textile patterns on their story box, Kurdish food, how life is for them in the UK.
Comments from the children at the end of the session included “I’ve learned that your country is split into 4 and is often not on a map. That must be difficult for you and your identity.”
“It’s important to hear stories like this so we learn about each other’s cultures and understand each other better.”
Hussain played the saz (Kurdish lute) for them and the children presented a framed picture to the couple as a thank you gift.
He said “It is so wonderful to meet the children here. We haven’t been anywhere for so long and we are forgetting the English we had learned.”
This coming year, we are hoping to continue the process that was interrupted by Covid-19 and find innovative ways of keeping schools, parents and refugees connected in a spirit of friendship and understanding.
David Raven-Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Strickson, email@example.com
Monica Deb, firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read the #Kirklees Welcomes blog