We aim to develop empathy, within the community, towards migrants in Northern Ireland by telling the stories of individual migrants through a variety of channels. We aim to celebrate diversity while simultaneously highlighting the similarities we all share as human beings. Migrant peoples are not a cohesive group; they are individuals with distinct identities regardless of their country of origin, their skin colour, or the religion they practice. We hope to encourage the general public to identify with migrants on a human-to-human level rather than through a “‘them and us”’ mentality after engaging with the Belonging project. We aim to create more cohesive communities through the workshops and learning to be shared at the roundtable by facilitating the engagement of local communities with migrant communities in a safe and energetic environment. Along with this we endeavour create long lasting relationships between local communities and migrant communities by fostering an environment of understanding developed through the visual presentations and stories of the migrant communities throughout Northern Ireland.
Artistry is key to effectively humanise the migrant journey and showcase their belonging within a new community. Photographer Laurence Gibson is known for portrait work that shows his subjects with honesty and subtle clarity. By embarking on this project, he is committing this unique gift to the mission of portraying migrants in a manner that invites observers to connect with them at an individual level.
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The Belonging Project received a series of digital arts workshops from Community Arts Partnership, where a group of participants had 15 hours create a short film. Because all of the participants were migrants, what resulted was a sort of "poetic documentary," a very personal reflection about being a person in a new environment. We think this film is a great compliment to the Belonging Project, and really humanises the migrant experience. Thank you to the fantastic independent filmmaker Michael Macbroom of Xrayeye Films and the generosity of Community Arts Partnership. Please check out the film and feel free to share.