Swindon City of Sanctuary and artist Bekah Grace have worked together to create the Imagine Colouring Book, based on this year’s Refugee Week 2020 theme “imagine”.
The book, which was delivered to 20 young children across the town, encourages them to draw and imagine a future of respect and fairness.
Bekah, from Redhouse, initially made illustrations which she put forward to the Harbour Project to send out to the families it supports.
“My illustrations weren’t able to be included in the initial support packages for those families, but that first communication opened up a door for Swindon City of Sanctuary to reach out about this project,” the 23-year-old said.
“I was excited about the colouring book project because it built on the idea I already had for the Harbour Project.”
Bekah, who was born in Wisconsin, USA, and moved to Swindon after marrying her husband Sam last year, wanted to support families who were away from their homes.
She said: “I’m passionate about this project because I recently moved to the UK myself and that was hard enough, so I can imagine the challenges that are faced by families who come to Swindon seeking sanctuary having been forced to leave their home countries, friends, and lives they knew all in one go.
“I truly hope this project inspires young creative minds towards using their skills for the betterment of whatever community they find themselves a part of. It can be challenging but is most often worth the effort it takes.
“I’d like to thank the friends, families, and organisations that have been so supportive and keen to share this project.”
She started illustrating as a side job in 2015 while studying at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.
She said: “Art has always been a passion of mine, but I have only started illustrating full-time since we went into lockdown. I like the creative freedom of being an illustrator, working with clients to help make their ideas and hopes come to life.”
Along with the colouring book, the charity has sent out boxes full of board games, crafts, colour pencils to keep children occupied.
Trustee Cristina Bennett said: “Bekah has offered to put something in the boxes, so we decided to get together with her, and came up with the idea of a colouring book.
“We thought we would use the theme of refugee week to develop inspiring pages of ideas that children could colour and draw and imagine. It’s more than colouring book.”
She added: "These families are already seeking asylum. They had to leave their place and now not only it is difficult in a new environment, but we’ve got the added problem on Covid-19.”
The book is currently available for free on their website. For further information visit swindon.cityofsanctuary.org/imagine-colouring-book-refugee-week-2020