In South London, Transition Town Tooting (TTT) and the refugee charity CARAS have been working together in a community project partnership since 2015. Together, we’ve mixed TTT’s facilitation and local relationships with the CARAS team’s skills and experience. We’ve worked alongside CARAS-organised refugee and asylum-seeking family groups, with the women’s group, with adults and with the Youth Club for unaccompanied teenagers.

  • Activity objectives have included enabling CARAS individuals to enjoy teamworking, have fun, meet new people and build their mental health and sense of wellbeing
  • Activities have included creative projects, carpentry, time outside in nature, creating a city garden, campfire cooking
  • We’ve found that what’s effective in our own facilitation style includes being patient, trusting that individuals will find and do activities that are right for them, working alongside as peers and getting hands-on

We’ve all enjoyed creating planters and furniture that made the CARAS office front yard more attractive to all, sending a message about care of the community and the environment.

In 2017 we built on the teenagers’ experience to make a set of benches for use outdoors elsewhere in the community.

We were excited to be reaching out from the familiar Youth Club setting!

During one long July afternoon, young people created 4 benches from 8 pallets. They problem-solved cutting up the pallets, making joints and what fixings to use. As sections of the benches were completed, others in the Youth Club wrote messages of invitation and welcome on the slats, using any language they wished.

The benches were used to furnish TTT’s ‘Tooting Twirl’ village green community celebration the next day. Later in the year the benches were loaned to Tooting’s Sound Lounge café, used in TTT’s outdoor annual ‘Tooting Foodival’ and included in the ‘Stay With Love’ exhibition of creative work by CARAS users.

Now the benches are enjoyed all year round by visitors to the Tooting Community Garden.

So many people have experienced the benches and so many local groups have been involved celebrating these young people’s creativity.

We’ve been inspired by our participants and that young refugees and asylum-seekers from many countries should feel like creating these benches and the personal messages that invite us – local Londoners – to feel welcome outdoors here in our city.Please get in touch to discuss our or your projects. Contact either of the partners:

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