Graffiti art project gives asylum seekers in Norwich a voice

Young asylum seekers from across the world took part in a collaborative graffiti art project calling for equality and understanding.

The Expressionz project at the Sainsbury Centre on the UEA campus saw the Norwich International Youth Project team up with graffiti artists Sticky Fingerz to for young people from Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan to express their feelings about their situations.

The event was held in the build-up to Young People Seeking Safety week, which runs from March 30 to April 5.

Incorporating words for love, brotherhood, unity, respect and friendship, written in the members' native tongues, the work reflected the fundamental rights and values that refugees and asylum seekers expected, said NIYP co-ordinator Rachael Martis.

'It's a message to say that young people need protection over here in the UK and back at home.

'Many of the people who took part have uncertain futures – they are refugees here, and they are refugees in their home country as well.'

She said the work, which included words in Urdu, Kurdish, Hindi and Persian had received a positive reception from students and visitors on the university campus.

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'It's given the young people a chance to express themselves, and lots of people have been to look and ask questions. Talking about these issues is key, because there are a lot of misconceptions.'

Tony Allen of Sticky Fingerz said that working with different alphabets had been an enjoyable challenge.

'Normally I work with the 26 letters of the alphabet, but it's been interesting to use other languages and letters and find out how they work.

'The young people have also learned a lot about each others languages, and how similar they are. Projects like this are all about communication and bringing young people together through art.'

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