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Humber Help contributor Michelle Dee visited 'The Stranger's Tale' exhibition at Hull Central Library.

[9 November 2015]

Exhibition highlights homelessness in migrant communities.


A Stranger's Tale, a new exhibition by photographer and artist Quentin Budworth, opened on November 4th. The exhibition at Hull Central Library seeks to give a voice to the refugee and migrant communities in Hull, and those who support them.

The exhibition consists of a series of collage photographs and pieces of text that tell the stories of the asylum seekers coming to Hull. These text pieces are purposely left anonymous, and so become tales of 'everyman'. The creation of the work has been enabled through the Open Doors project based on Princes Avenue in the city. The images are made up of both the asylum seekers and migrants who have sought help, and the team of volunteers who give up their time to help those in need who visit Open Doors.

Not all the faces in the exhibition have fled from war or threats of persecution and torture, some have come to study and then found themselves unable to go home because of new conflict and changing political landscapes. The families arrive in Hull often traumatised, scared by the strangeness of the city and its people but determined to make a better future. Some of the asylum seekers are homeless or become homeless shortly after they arrive, through a lack of financial means - there is very little support offered by statutory organisations. This was the case for Saeed Jameli. Saeed came to Hull and despite being fearful did his best to integrate. He talks of being saved by Open Doors when he ran out of money and lost his accommodation:
Saeed
I had nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep. It was a hurricane tearing through my life, the feelings of fear and anxiety returned. Those angels suddenly put things right for me they gave me somewhere to live.
Saeed Jameli
Thanks to Open Doors Saeed has now found somewhere to live and has made a 'family of friends' through accessing the support offered by the project. It is these very basic needs of food and shelter that Open Door seeks to address through the weekly drop in sessions.

Volunteer David Turner thought he could put his language skills to use to help address communication barriers - but he was needed elsewhere:

'I’ve concentrated more on the reception desk where we receive people as they come in, issue vouchers for food parcels and money to those who are destitute and have no financial support at all.'



Another volunteer talks about how they began working in the food room, now they too, are supporting the destitute:

'I started volunteering at Open Doors 8 years ago, initially in the food room filling bags for clients. After that there was a time I was involved with homeless people who had nowhere to go on Thursday mornings.'



It may be surprising to learn that for those waiting for a decision on asylum applications, they are not able to work. It is against the law for them to work, and because they can't work they are then expected to live off charity. They have nowhere to go, nothing to do while their application is being decided upon. Open Doors gives many service users the chance to volunteer themselves, such as Vladimir Antoniani who escaped Georgia after much political upheaval:

'I help every week as a volunteer, I am seeking asylum. I have two boys and a wife. The boys go to school here, they really like life in Hull, there are no problems.'



Open Doors was set up by Princes Avenue Methodist Church in 2000. Bashir Shiraj (who helped establish Hull Food Bank) heads up the project, he says:
Bashir
We welcome and support asylum seekers and refugees to help them in exploring - and enabling them to play - a full positive role in our society.
Bashir Shiraj
Open Doors continues to support refugees and asylum seekers, including the destitute, through public donations and small individual grants.

To learn more about The Stranger's Tale, Open Doors, and photographer Quentin Budworth - visit the website:

The Stranger's Tale

The exhibition continues at Hull Central Library until 14th November 2015.