Archive for the ‘Encounters’ Category

Refugee Week

Sunday, June 13th, 2010
Bakri Alnajeeb's SOTM

Bakri Alnajeeb, from Sudan, chose a SOTM in Arabic

I HAD a meeting a few weeks ago with those nice people from the British Refugee Council (Farida Stanikzai) and Refugee Week (Gerdy Rees). They told me about their plans for Refugee Week, in which a number of events are held to celebrate the things that refugees bring to this country, when they no longer can live in their own.

We chatted about what they were up to and SOTM and decided to combine our efforts. So Farida took six SOTMs of refugees currently in the UK, and gathered up some of their stories – you’ll see them start appearing on the site from 14 June.

The organisers of Refugee Week said: “The purpose of Refugee Week is to deliver positive educational messages that counter fear, ignorance and negative stereotypes of refugees, through arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and promote understanding about the reasons why people seek sanctuary.

“Refugee Week was first held in 1998, and was created in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain. It remains the only UK-wide event that promotes the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.

“Refugee Week is a multi-agency project, managed by the Refugee Week Team which consists of the UK Coordinator for Refugee Week, Welsh and Scottish Co-ordinators and a small number of volunteers with specific skills. Different regions, areas and towns have their own Refugee Week Steering and Operational Groups which manage and co-ordinate Refugee Week activities in their areas.”

So there you go – check out what someone once told refugees from Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan among other places.

Farewell to Emilie

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Emilie Stammers\’ SOTM

AFTER putting a shout out on twitter for volunteers, I was contacted by Emilie Stammers. So we met in Camden for a coffee – or at least I had a drink, as she refused my offer of one, stating that she had just drunk a coffee before my arrival and would “be up all night” if she had another.

We chatted for a while, during which she talked about starting university, her boyfriend, her parents and her dad in particular. Then we went around the corner to a snowy Camden Lock and I took her shot there, along with her video, before we parted.

About a month later I got an email one evening, which I read at the very moment that Ronaldinho scored against Manchester United in their Champions League game. I was shocked by what I read, so I turned away from the football and read the email again to try and make sense of it. It was from someone called Dave, who informed me that he was Emilie’s friend and that she had killed herself about three weeks after I’d taken her photo.

He said she was a big fan of SOTM and “very excited” about appearing on it. He also went on to urge me to use Emilie’s picture and has also set up a Facebook group in her memory.

Although I’d only met Emilie once, I was upset by all this. She was 18, bright, with clearly a lot to live for. But I didn’t want to use her picture if it upset her family, who already had that tragedy to deal with. So I emailed Robin, Emilie’s dad, who looked over the material and gave me his blessing. His testimony about his daughter forms a large part of the blurb beneath her photograph.

So, if you read this blog post, please do visit Emilie’s picture. I think she would have liked that.

Student Shenanigans

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Your Smile Lights Up The WorldI packed up my trusty camera and soon-to-be famous sketchbook in early February 2008 and headed to Bangor’s beautiful Victorian pier, following an emailed instruction to “meet us on the pier”. That message was sent by the excellent Siobhan Holt, editor of Seren, the student union magazine for Bangor University.

She had rounded up a posse of 15 students, who turned up for their photographs – I also got the chap who sells souvenirs on the pier to take part. The SOTMs had a romantic theme, as it was almost Valentine’s Day. During the trip I took what turned out to be one of my favourite SOTM images, with a lovely message too. Many thanks to Siobhan and the Bangor crew, and I got several mentions (on pages 2, 10, 11, 13) in Seren including a double page spread.

SOTM launch party

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

SOTM sketchbooksThe Someone Once Told Me launch party took place on Saturday 8 September 2007 in London. Thanks to all who came.

There was a prize draw, a bit of a speech by yours truly, pictures were taken by Marcus Yorke, and I grabbed a few SOTMs myself while it was all going on.

Two of the ladies who came had previously posed for SOTM on a beach, in Goa, India, about a year before – and we’d never seen each other since. What’s more, they came to the party from Germany! Now that’s the sort of dedication that SOTM likes to see.