World Refugee Day: The importance of The Refugee Journalism Project
Why we need more organisations to provide opportunities for refugees in journalism.
Each year, on June 20th, we celebrate World Refugee Day – a day that allows us to raise awareness and to celebrate the courage of those fleeing conflict or persecution. It is a chance to understand and emphasise not only their plight, but to prioritise their rights, needs, and aspirations- which will not only allow them to survive but to ultimately thrive. The theme of this year’s awareness day is Together We Heal, Learn and Shine which highlights the strategies to improve the lives of refugees.
This year, we want to talk about The Refugee Journalism Project (RJP) – which strives to provide opportunities, and to improve representations of refugees which will help better the journalism sector.
The Refugee Journalism Project was founded in 2016 in partnership with the Migrant Resource Centre and is based at the London College of Communication which is part of the University of the Arts London. It is an initiative that strives to support refugees and exiled people to get into journalism – whether they are aspiring journalists or want to re-start their career in the UK. By providing resources such as workshops, mentoring, work experience, it aims to kick-start their career in the industry.
Over the past five years The Refugee Journalism Project has been highly successful in its mission of securing internships, regular freelance work, and full-time positions within the media industry. Tessa Hughes at the Migrants Resource Centre explains the importance of the project stating how “the asylum system can be very tough. The Refugee Journalism Project encourages people to go out there and grab hold of their career again.” By highlighting the importance of opportunity, Hughes further explains how problematic and biased the media coverage can be regarding refugees. Stating how we can eradicate negative stereotypes through journalists who have first-hand experience – “what better way to do this than to have refugee journalists telling the refugee story? Refugee voices are desperately needed in the media.”
Tessa Hughes expresses the importance of providing opportunities and support for refugees, and not letting their adversity define them, with offering a second chance to re-start their career and life in the UK. In turn, this also diversifies and enriches the coverage in the media sector and provides first-hand insight and experiences of authentic stories concerning social issues. It also allows outlets to develop new ideas, access hard-to-reach sources and information and investigative projects regarding conflict that could have been previously missed.
The Refugee Journalism Project is a brilliant initiative that supports and provides opportunities for refugees to enter the journalism sector.
We are hopeful that opportunities for those in all regions will be available soon, particularly in the North and in the Midlands. Opportunities for refugees in the media sector will not only provide a second-chance, but will ultimately diversify and improve representation of media coverage in the UK.
Important resources for information and donations: