The Project: This work combines illustration, animation, design and projection mapping to chronologically detail the story of the UK’s response to the refugee crisis, and specifically the pledge made by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to settle 20 families by 2020. The aim is to hold Greenwich Council accountable for their promise.
We worked extremely closely with a number of key stakeholders in preparing this project including Greenwich Citizens UK, Refugees Welcome, local faith groups, and academic staff at Ravensbourne.
After the assembly, we will continue to provide creative support to these groups in order to further this agenda. This would include social media presence, public art installations in areas like Greenwich Park, campaigns to call for volunteers, and more.
The Team
Sarah Dousse: Art Direction and Illustration
Maru Hernández: Animation and Video Production​​​​​​​
Kat Lee Hornstein: Art Direction and Copywriting 
Viola Siegling: Rapid Prototyping
The Story: In 2015, Greenwich Council made the pledge to resettle 20 Syrian Refugee families within five years.
Only three refugee families have been housed so far.
Working alongside Greenwich Citizens UK, this project uses illustration, animation and projection mapping on a triptych of posters, to be displayed on April 24 at the Greenwich Citizens UK Election Assembly.
Local politicians will be present, and we will call on them to honour their promise, and publicly commit to the action plan of settling the remaining 17 families by 2020.

Intended Immediate Impact: The posters and projections will be displayed preceding events during a networking half-hour at the Greenwich Citizens UK Election Assembly, taking place on Tuesday 24th April 2018. commissions give the community and politicians opportunity to absorb the content in a nuanced way before directly engaging with the action groups.

Poster 1: An International Crisis
(note: the open white space is canvas for projection)
Poster Design: Kat Lee Hornstein

This is the test illustration I made when I was trying to find a graphic style for this project. (Made with Photoshop)

Illustration: Sarah Dousse

In 2015, the refugee crisis facing Europe had reached staggering new levels. Hundreds of thousands of people had fled across the Mediterranean Sea to escape war and persecution, sparking heated political debate across the continent. 

What level of humanitarian responsibility do we have to provide shelter and safety for the victims of violence?
Animation : Maru Hernández

In the UK, pressure for action was growing rapidly. The publication of jarring photography documenting these journeys had caused a public outcry. In particular, graphic images of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi, who died tragically along with his mother and brother in a failed attempt to flee to Greece by boat, made it clear that an immediate response was needed.

In light of this, former Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs “The whole country has been deeply moved by the heart-breaking images we have seen over the past few days.” He made a promise that the UK would “live up to its moral responsibility” by taking 20,000 refugees from the camps on the borders of Syria over the course of 5 years. (2015 – 2020). 

He also stated that the pace at which the refugees would come to the UK would depend not only on the speed with which the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) could identify refugees, but also how quickly local councils were able to process the applicants.
Poster 2: The UK Responds
(note: the open white space is canvas for projection)
Poster Design: Kat Lee Horntein
Illustration: Sarah Dousse
Illustration: Sarah Dousse

Local councils across the UK stepped up to the plate, pledging their tallies respectively. In general, community support for the resettling scheme was overwhelming. Many areas not only fulfilled their original promises; they increased them. Local charities and citizens’ groups’ grassroots activism spurred on the action.

For example, in Birmingham city, the original pledge was to settle 50 refugees. But after campaigns from community groups, especially Citizens UK, they eventually committed to 550.
Illustration: Sarah Dousse

According to FOI’s by the Guardian, “charities and faith groups” have been integral in “securing housing for the project, with roughly 30 local authorities saying housing was obtained partly or primarily through charities and faith groups making property available.”

However, not all councils have followed through so thoroughly.

This is certainly the case in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, one of the most multicultural boroughs of London. Despite a local council that celebrates diversity, progress has been slow.

In 2015, the pledge was made to settle 20 families by 2020, a more than reasonable goal. But no families were housed that year.  

In 2016, once again, no refugees were housed.

Finally, in 2017, thanks much in part to local activism, some progress was made. Two families were welcomed in December, and a third, in February of 2018.
Poster 3 : A Plan for the Future of Greenwich
(note: the open white space is canvas for projection)
Poster Design: Kat Lee Hornstein
Illustration: Sarah Dousse

Citizens UK believes that “Community organising is democracy in action: winning victories that change lives and transform communities”
Greenwich Citizens UK, a local chapter of the national organisation, epitomises this belief. The area is home to many charitable groups; they are an active community of dedicated people working tirelessly in the name of social justice through various causes.

Now, some of these teams are acting together in pursuit of a common goal: to fulfil the promise of settling 20 refugees locally by 2020.

On April 24th, 2018, Greenwich Citizens UK will host an election assembly. This assembly will provide the opportunity for the community to have their voices heard. They can state their cause to local politicians, and demand action.
Illustration: Sarah Dousse

In this arena, the lack of forward progress in the local housing of refugees will be addressed. A plan will be proposed.​​​​​​​
That plan is: 6 families per year in 2018, 2019, & 2020 respectively. To carry this out, 5 more families must come by the end of December to reach the annual goal of 6.

And if this process of welcoming 6 families annually is repeated over the next two years, by the end of 2020, Greenwich will have fulfilled its pledge. When a promise is made, there must be follow through. In welcoming these families, the fabric of the community would only be strengthened, its reputation as a richly diverse and caring citizenry solidified.  Together, the people of Greenwich can make a difference. 

We are pleased to announce that Both David Gardner (Labour, Cabinet Member, Health and Social Care, Greenwich) and Matt Hartley (Conservative, Councillor for Coldharbour & New Eltham ward) pledged their support for the action plan of settling 5 more families by the end of this year, as well as 6 more in 2019, and 6 more in 2020, in order to fulfil Greenwich Council’s promise of housing 20 Syrian refugee families locally by 2020. 

It was an honour to participate in the Assembly. Our team is inspired to move forward with this work, fighting for the rights of those already settled here, as well as the families to come. There’s more work to be done, however this is a victory worth celebrating.

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