A new exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool celebrates the lives and stories of refugees and asylum seekers who have come to the UK.
The People Move exhibition was the culmination of a nearly two-year long project by Daily Mirror journalists Claire Donnelly, Maryam Qaiser, and photographer Phil Cobin, who embarked on a process of interviewing, learning and capturing the stories of a hundred different refugees.
Maryam said: “We launched the project last year with the idea of just doing a year interviews and leaving it at that. But then it widened and we wanted to do an exhibition after gaining more traction. The first celebration was held in June at the City Hall venue, with over a 150 people attending.”
The project was assisted by various refugee charities across the country, as well support from politicians including London mayor Sadiq Khan and Lord Alf Dubbs – who both spoke about their experiences of their families having to move to Britain in search of a better life.
Maryam said: “We wanted to take the exhibition to a place as multicultural as Liverpool, and be able to coincide it with the Labour Party conference, to attract as many people to the exhibition as possible.
“The main aim was to get a hundred refugees or asylum seekers who have come to the UK to a build new life, many have come for various reasons – war, conflict, trauma, persecution, and we wanted to document that”
The stories that were heard were incredibly heart-breaking and distressing
The Mirror tackled the project by telling the stories of asylum seekers through a single object. They would ask each person to think of a special object that has helped them in their journey of making it to the UK.
The items including a pen that someone had from Syria, a wallet, house keys, a teddy bear, with the main aim being to humanise and put into perspective what these people have had to suffer.
Maryam added: “Everyone’s got a special object they brought with them, we wanted to talk about why they left their country through the prism of that object. The stories that were heard were incredibly heart-breaking and distressing, the bravery and inspiration that people can show really is amazing.“
The people interviewed for the project were from all across the world, all having their different reasons for trying to start a new life. The stories range from the 1930’s and people coming on the Kindertransport all the way up to 2023.
Through the assistance of various charities, the stories and reporting was treated with great care due to the sensitive nature it possessed. Many of the people interviewed have family and friends still living back home, who could come under threat if certain things are reported.
One of the focuses was on people in Malaysia who are part of the LGBT community, fleeing because of the discrimination that is now present within the country, as many are threatened with a twenty year jail term. The Mirror also spoke to a lot of Ukrainian families, who came via the family reunion scheme after the conflict started last year.
With the success of both the Liverpool and London exhibitions, the hope for the People Move project is that similar celebrations can take place at other cities across the country, encapsulating the diverse and wide array of people that were interviewed for the project.
Featured image (c) Mirror Newspaper, used with permission