UK, Syrian Children Pin Hopes and Dreams Together at IOM Refugee Week Workshop

Rowan, 8, from Devon hopes for peace as part of IOM's Building Tomorrow Together workshop. Photo: IOM

Sammy, 7, drew a picture with all his favourite things, including sea creatures, at IOM's Building Tomorrow Together workshop on 17 June. Photo: IOM

IOM's tree on which Brit and Syrian kids pin their hopes. Photo: IOM

London – The similarities and shared values of Syrian refugee and British children were on display at a special workshop organized as part of IOM, the UN Migration Agency’s participation in the 20th Anniversary Refugee Week in London on Sunday (17/06).

Dozens of British and Syrian children explored the question “What makes me, me?” and tried to unpack what is important to them at the IOM-facilitated Building Tomorrow Together workshop – designed to promote understanding and integration for Syrian and British youth.

At the workshop held in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the children shared their hopes and dreams on leaf-shaped pieces of paper, and pinned their leaves together on a tree-shaped art installation.

The fully grown, leaf-decorated tree showed the children that they have more things in common with each other than differences. Many of the kids’ leaves expressed the importance of family, homes and safe places to play.

Riad, a 10-year-old boy from Hama, Syria who participated in the workshop, has lived through more years of war than peace.

“I hope I can make good friends and have a house with a garden where my little brother can play,” he said. “I hope to go to school and it would be nice if it is near a toy shop. I believe life can be beautiful.”

“War is a silly way to solve things,” said another participant, 10-year-old Maya from Devon, UK. “I hope we would have less war and pollution.”

IOM began the series of workshops in Lebanon in 2017 as an activity for Syrian children, while their parents attended an IOM-implemented pre-departure orientation that provided information for refugee families about what to expect when they arrive in the UK.

“Learning about each other is at the heart of integration,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM UK Chief of Mission.

“Through Building Tomorrow Together, children are able to look beyond labels of ‘refugee’ or ‘Brit’ to understand that many of their own self-identities and hopes are similar. Despite varied backgrounds, integration is about finding common ground and building on it,” Pardeshi continued.

Children accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the 5,760 refugees resettled to the UK in the financial year ending March 2018, according to the Office of National Statistics. 

IOM implements pre-departure health assessments, pre-departure orientation and movement management, and travel arrangements for refugees going to the UK. IOM also supports national and local governments to develop integration programmes as part of a holistic migration management strategy.

This was the third year that IOM participated in Refugee Week in the UK, one of the leading national initiatives working to counter negative rhetoric and highlight the potential benefits of integration programmes for both the refugee and host communities.

For more information, please contact Abby Dwommoh at IOM UK, Tel: +44 (0)78 733 011 93, Email: