Refugees & Asylum Seekers

We work with Refugee Community Organisations to organise creative writing and reading workshops for people with refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds.

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We work with Refugee Community Organisations to organise creative writing and reading workshops for people with refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds. We work in places like the Migrants Resource Centre in Westminster, the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in Ladbroke Grove, Praxis in Bethnal Green, Bristol Refugee RightsSt Chad’s Sanctuary in Birmingham, Jesuit Refugee Service in Wapping and Community Arts North West in Manchester.

We work with participants in each centre and create ongoing series of writing and reading workshops led by professional writers with star guests such as Esther Freud, Mimi Khalvati, George Szirties, Daljit Nagra, Blake Morrison and Choman Hardi.

At the end of the 6-8 week workshop series, the writers contribute to a beautifully produced book that is then launched at a public event, often at English PEN’s home, the Free Word Centre. The latest books are now available to read online.

Brave New Voices 2.0

Thanks to funding from John Lyon’s Charity and the Limbourne Trust, English PEN is currently delivering Brave New Voices 2.0, a three-year creative writing and translation project with young refugees and asylum seekers celebrating multilingualism and self-expression.

The first series of workshops in the project was held at Praxis in Bethnal Green, East London and led by the writer, journalist and broadcaster Bidisha. 

Read more about the project here.

Recent activities

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Workshops with WINGS: creative writing with young mums at Praxis

Here, writer-facilitator Bidisha’s thoughts on the workshops, the women and their writing, and some festive poetry postcards written by the WINGS group.


miriam halahmy workshop post 1‘Go and open the door': writing and wellbeing with Miriam Halahmy

In December 2014, writer Miriam Halahmy led workshops at MRCF in Ladbroke Grove. Here, she reflects and shares thoughts on how writing opens doors and can change lives.


faiza-image-featureFrench writer Faïza Guène meets young women in Bethnal Green

As part of the project Brave New Voices 2014-17, young refugee and migrant mums met the French-Algerian author of ‘Just Like Tomorrow’.