SMILE (Supporting and Mentoring in Learning and Education) was part of the Children’s Section of the Refugee Council, the project was based in London, the West Midlands, and Yorkshire & Humberside.
SMILE aimed to reduce the isolation experienced by so many asylum seeking and refugee children and young people, by supporting them to access education and individual recreational activities. SMILE also organised group activities, such as arts workshops, sport clubs and presentations. It also worked to promote inclusive education by challenging prejudices related to asylum and raise awareness of the needs of refugee children.
The SMILE Documentary Films Project was commissioned in March 2009. The aim of the project was to enable young people to learn how to make a short documentary film from pre-production to post-production stages. They had complete creative freedom over their subject matter. The young people were put together in groups and supported to make their films. The end result not only gave them a visual portfolio but a voice and sense of empowerment as for once they have an interested audience.
The workshops took place in in our catchment regions; London, Birmingham and Leeds. Each project was made up of six workshops and were designed and facilitated by a professional film maker and supported by dedicated volunteers.The workshops ran from July to November in London, Birmingham and Leeds.
The end result is 10 short documentary films on subject matters such as journeys to the UK, the reality of being a asylum seeking teenager in a new country and experiencing education in the UK told with a unique and fresh voice.