Refugees & Asylum Seekers

English PEN collaborates with Refugee Community Organisations to organise creative writing and translation workshops for people with refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds. We have worked in places like the Migrants Resource Centre in Westminster, the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, Migrants Organise 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.

In each centre, we work with participants to create an ongoing series of writing and translation workshops led by professional writers, with star guests such as Esther Freud, Mimi Khalvati, George Szirtes, 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 recently concluded Brave New Voices 2.0, a three-year creative writing and translation project with young refugees and asylum seekers celebrating multilingualism and self-expression.

Read more about the project here.

Recent activities

Word Bridges, an event showcasing ten writers from the Brave New Voices workshops, will be held from 18:30 – 19:30 on Monday June 24th, 2019. To book tickets, click here.

On Sunday 29 July 2018, a group of participants in our Brave New Voices outreach project joined a very special collaboration with the BBC Proms. The students, all pupils at the Capital City Academy in Willesden, performed a piece of poetry as part of the Ten Pieces Prom.

The poem was written by young participants from refugee backgrounds, in collaboration with writer and Brave New Voices co-ordinator Rosemary Harris and translator Alice Guthrie, in partnership with Salusbury World.

Brave New Voices 2.0: Year Two

Read all about the second year of the Brave New Voices 2.0 project!



Brave New Voices 2.0: Year One

Find out all about the first year of the Brave New Voices 2.0 project!



Becoming a Brave New Voice

Brave New Voices participant Francesca Ojefua writes movingly on her lifelong love of reading and writing.