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Wellbeing Books: Homesickness and Home Transitions

This project was commissioned by Windle Trust International who offer UK-based scholarships to students from conflict affected regions in the east and horn of Africa. I was asked to run an arts based workshop to help acknowledge and respond to some of the challenges students were facing with dealing with changes between 'home' and life in the UK.

We explored the challenges of transitioning from 'home' to 'here' through Nuffield Foundation's Wheel of Wellbeing. Each participant was given a handmade book to act as a holding space for their transitions from 'home' to 'here'; from 'before' to 'now'. The structure of the books acknowledged that we bring our past with us to the present- and thus a wealth of learning, wisdom and personal resources for finding solutions to current and future challenges. Students filled the blank pages with visual representations of their own pointers for wellness, relevant to their own personal journey. The books enabled participants to identify where there is disconnect and where there is overlap between their previous home and where they currently reside, and they were able to offer advise and solutions for each other through reflective discussions.

The wheel was placed in the centre double spread, pages falling under the left side of the book represented 'home before' and pages under the right side of the wheel represented 'home now'.

Workshop Feedback:

"The students really enjoyed the session, and it highlighted

some excellent areas for me to follow up with them,

so it was especially valuable from a welfare perspective."

"The workshop was good. I enjoyed your session the most.

It was so inspiring. I have just looked at my book and...!"

The workshop was informed by an academic paper entitled "Creative Arts Therapies as Temporary Home for Refugees: Insights from Literature and Practice" by Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell and Sabine C. Koch. Published October 2017 and available online.

Points of reference from the article:

"As individuals depict their old houses, homes, loved ones, aspects of themselves, and their stories through visual media, their identities can be strengthened and they can experience a sense of momentary home, stability,

and remembrance..."

"For those who struggle in a state of limbo and feel like the old is no longer accessible, yet the new seems so far away, the creative arts may provide a temporary home. In the hands of a skilled therapist, this place of art-making through visual art, music, drama or dance and movement, can not only represent a safe container (safe space) that encourages authenticity and familiarity – a journey on which clients can integrate different pieces of their identity through self-expression and aesthetic creation – but also build a bridge to the new environment (enactive transitional space), so that the host country can become a home country."

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