Norwich City of Sanctuary has a lively, well-supported Arts Stream. Earlier this year they asked themselves what they could do for refugee children, stuck at home without school.
Via Zoom, the idea of creating art packs for them was born. Emma Zangs from the group takes up the story.
Off we went. We got local charity, New Routes, on board to dispatch the packs in July, created a fundraising page on JustGiving, spread the word to our friends, families and clubs raising more than a £1000 in total.
It was getting real and we had 180 children to cater for.
Honestly, we had no idea what was ahead of us.
Sourcing material was extremely difficult during a pandemic. HobbyCraft and Poundland were in shortage of paint and all we could get was 300 bottles delivered to one of our homes.
We were stunned by the help we received from everyone who donated and other community projects. The Norfolk Scrubs Volunteers donated 180 cotton bags they had as surplus from the PPE they made for the NHS. They were all handmade in multicoloured pattern fabric, 100% cotton with sturdy cords. The NSV worked hard during the pandemic and managed to help us on the way.
We also received paper and card donations from the Swallowtail Printers, who gave us some surplus material, and as paper is very costly so we couldn’t be happier. With the cards, we made 180 paper crowns that children could decorate with bits and bobs.
The Millennium library, the Festival Bridge and the British Library donated books, activity packs and pencils, so we could spend the money on buying quality materials.
It was time to pack it all up so we set camp at the beautiful Make, Play, Connect space on Angel Road created by Gilian Francis. Keeping our distances from each other, wearing masks and washing our hands, we organised a very efficient packing line, filling up the bags with all the goodies we sourced across Norwich and online.
We made two sets of packs, one for the under 6 and one for the over 6 years old. Each pack included: Coloured pens, three paint bottles, two brushes, scissors, glue, tape, sharpener, felt tips, card, paper, a book, a terracotta flower pot, small people cut outs, a crown, an art bag and activity booklet made by us and donated by the organisations mentioned above.
We did not foresee how much space it would take to store it all! Thankfully everything fitted in our van and caravan for a day or two until delivery time to New Roots!
And off they went to be delivered and enjoyed by 180 children…
We are still organising an Art Auction of over 100 artworks donated by local artists, which will hopefully take place soon online, as well as sending more art supplies to the asylum seekers at Badersfield in Coltishall via the People From Abroad Team for their art classes.
Stay Tuned for more information on the Art Auction. We need it to be a fun online event after all!
A warm thank you to everyone who helped us make the art packs a reality during the troubled times of this pandemic.
Madi, Maggie, Siobhan and Emma.
The Norwich City of Sanctuary Arts Stream Team