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How the Refugee Journalism Project is helping migrants relaunch their media careers

Vivienne Francis, AJE committee member explains a new research project providing support and training for refugees

The idea for this project emerged a couple of years ago while I was doing some voluntary media work with refugees at the Migrants Resource Centre.

We were coming across experienced workers who were having difficulty re-establishing their careers in the UK.

One-off media projects provided some support, but we wanted to go further by devising something that could have a more lasting impact.

So, in a partnership between the London College of Communication and the Migrants Resource Centre, we developed The Refugee Journalism Project.

Vivienne Francis

Through mentoring, journalism workshops and internships, we seek to support refugee and exiled journalists build up their network of industry contacts; update their skills; and get their voices into the mainstream.

Our participants have been recruited from Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Yemen.

All have successfully been through the asylum process and have confirmed refugee status. One of the central features of the project is the pairing of the refugees with established journalists and media professionals.

The lack of access to a network has been frequently cited as a barrier to their progress. Our mentors have worked for BBC, CNN, Vice, Channel 4 News, The Telegraph, New Statesman, Sky News, The Times, The Economist and Vanity Fair.

The mentors tailor their guidance according to the mentees needs – some are working on pitches to take to commissioning editors for radio documentaries, investigations or feature articles, others are spending the time developing their CVs, or career planning.

A handful of journalism undergraduates at LCC have also volunteered to work alongside the refugee journalists – supporting the project website and filming activities.

This enables the students to gain a more transcultural awareness of journalism, and helps them to develop their interpersonal skills.

For more information on the project, please visit www.migrantjournalism.org