World Refugee Day to be marked by acclaimed author talk

An acclaimed journalist and writer, who authored a book for young people centred on the atrocities of the Syrian war, is due to lead a panel discussion at Eccleston Library on Wednesday 20th June for World Refugee Day.

In ‘The Pomegranate Tree’ Vanessa Altin captures in diary form the account of 13-year-old Dilvan, who is tragically separated from her family during the siege of her town on the Syrian border with Turkey by the cruel “ratmen”.

While fictional, Dilvan’s harrowing but hopeful story illustrates the experiences of so many Syrian children displaced by the conflict, seeking refuge in other countries.

Vanessa will chair the panel discussion with the community, partners and artists, opening up a wider conversation and raising awareness about the asylum process. Also speaking will be Julia Savage from Asylum Matters and Emily Hayes, Co-Artistic Director of Pathway Arts.

The event features as part of the nationally-renowned Cultural Hubs arts-in-libraries programme, delivered by St Helens Council’s Library Service which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for Community Based and Focused Services, said: “Securing such an acclaimed writer to present this panel is a real coup for our Cultural Hubs programme, and our Library Service. Vanessa will no doubt lead a highly engaging and interesting discussion on the plight of refugees and asylum seekers – one of the most momentous issues facing the world today. I’d encourage residents to come along and join the conversation.”

The panel will be held at Eccleston Library, Wednesday 20 June, 5pm-7pm. Attendance is free, just drop in. Drinks and snacks will be available.

As part of the wider national Refugee Week campaign there are also visual artworks on display in Haydock and Eccleston libraries by Turner Prize nominee artist Mark Titchner and artist Claire Weetman.

Mark Titchner worked closely with refugee and asylum seeker artists at creative workshops making imagery with personal messages about the experience of being a refugee. The project was originally developed as part of the ArtReach Journeys Festival International and the art gives a voice and visibility to this community.

Claire Weetman, Sophie Tickle, SOLA ARTS and people in St Helens seeking asylum are also working together this year to produce visual, digital and movement artworks that explore what it means to be someone who has had to move from one place to another. An element of this work in progress, entitled Maze of Displacement, can be seen in the Eccleston Library now.

Main photo – Vanessa Altin

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