Case Study

Harnessing the power of coproduction with the Refugee Week Ambassadors

Posted by Katherine Maxwell-Rose on October 7, 2023

For the Refugee Week Ambassador Programme 2023, IMIX were keen to co-produce digital content with the group as we knew they had many skills and much expertise to bring to the project. We wanted to give them space and opportunity to reflect on the festival’s theme, their experience of going through the asylum system and to empower them to use their own voices to speak directly to the Refugee Week audience. 

IMIX facilitated two awaydays with the Refugee Week Ambassadors. During the first day, we spent time getting to know each other and building up a good rapport within the group. The film production company, The Saltways led the ambassadors through a practical workshop on how to make effective films with their mobile phones. This was a useful time of learning to use simple tools to make powerful short pieces for social media and increased the participants’ confidence in appearing in front of the screen as well as working with the phone’s different camera settings. 

On the second day a month later, the IMIX team, representatives from Counterpoints and the Ambassadors thought through the theme of the festival in more depth, and what compassion meant to each person. The ambassadors were photographed and filmed with the same film company The Saltways expressing their thoughts and feelings about compassion. Together the group were invited to write about compassion meant to them which the IMIX team facilitated through a creative sensory exercise. Ambassadors met with their mentor to discuss a digital project which they would like to create. The IMIX mentors provided guidance working through what skills and resources which were needed to deliver their projects, how to manage the project and deliver it on time. 

Over the next two months in the run up to Refugee Week in June, mentors provided continued guidance on the ambassadors’ digital projects, working with them at times to film content and develop ideas in more detail. 

The Saltways produced a film for Refugee Week featuring all the ambassadors’ voices as well as images and films from their own collections. The film performed really well on social media, was a great advert for Refugee Week festival and gave prominence to the ambassadors. 

The Ambassadors words on compassion inspired a poem which was crafted and edited by the poet Lina Fadel called A Friend Named Compassion, and a video was produced alongside this by the IMIX team. 

In addition, individual Ambassador digital projects were also highlighted on the Refugee Week Instagram and IMIX Human Journeys platforms. These were varied in style and content reflecting the diversity of the ambassadors’ experiences. Poems, films, workshops and interviews were produced highlighting issues and ideas which the Ambassadors were interested in, and which expressed how they felt about being a refugee in the UK. One of the ambassadors and journalist from Afghanistan, Zahra, collaborated with IMIX on our podcast, Un/Documented in a special episode for the festival. She was interviewed by the IMIX Head of Voices about her own journey, and then interviewed, Teslim, another ambassador about his experience of seeking asylum as well as the Refugee Week coordinator, Lara Deffense. 

It was inspiring to see the diversity and scope of the projects which were produced, each person using their voice in their own individual way. The Ambassadors grew in confidence during this project and were inspired to continue creating and advocating for change. The process of coproduction is one which IMIX would like to grow and develop in future Ambassador programmes.