Theatre of Sanctuary

Our support for the Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant community in Colchester and wider Essex

Over the past decade the Mercury has continued its commitment to supporting and engaging those seeking sanctuary in Colchester working in close partnership with Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (RAMA).

At the Mercury, we aim to offer the opportunity for people from the refugee, asylum and migrant community to feel valued, heard, welcome and respected. Our aim is that everyone can finally feel safe and come to see Colchester as their home regardless of the length of their stay.

Our work would not be possible without our close partnership with RAMA – formerly Colchester Refugee Action. Together we can sustain our programming through identifying small funding schemes to support project costs. RAMA provides further pastoral care and support for participants through access to their services and their volunteer befriending scheme.

We offer complimentary tickets to theatre shows, family days, workshops, performance opportunities as well as two long term funded projects over 2022/2023.

Global Voices Choir

As a direct response to requests from members of the community we established a Global Choir earlier last year. These sessions are integrated with members that are seeking sanctuary and local residents.

The group have worked on a wide repertoire of music from contemporary western ‘pop’ to other traditional pieces drawing on their personal heritage or country of origin. To make it accessible to parents we also offer childcare for toddlers.

The groups ethos is about having fun, being creative, creating local networks and building confidence.

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Costume Making Workshops & Creative Meet-Ups

The Mercury worked with the Refugee group based in Marks Tey, to plan multiple intergenerational ‘meet-ups’ so that the families could get to know each other and speak to RAMA about issues that were currently facing them. Each meet-up included creative activities such as crafting, drama games, an interactive tour of Colchester, watching a performance from New Adventures dance company and a picnic.

We also ran a series of costume making workshops that took place at the Marks Tey village hall, a five minute walk from where the community were living. This project emerged from requests from the women in particular who wanted a creative activity that also taught their peers a new skill and passed down knowledge and experience across generations. Using ‘off cuts’ of fabric from our wardrobe department, participants created garments using traditional designs along with western influences. The final garments made by the group were displayed in June 2023 in our front of house area at the Mercury. The exhibition coincided with our celebrations of Refugee Week.

These projects wouldn’t have been possible without the support from Refugee, Asylum Seeker, and Migrant Action, Essex Community Foundation, Colchester City Council and the National Lottery Community Fund.

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