As the world experienced covid, this docu-animation powerfully brings to life the unique experiences of children and young people whose lives were put on hold in the asylum system, the profound legacies it has on their lives, and how Covid compounded fundamental systemic issues in the asylum system. It reveals how the participants tried to survive and overcome these exceptional challenges, with the aim of improving the system for all children and young people in the asylum process through this research. Despite the great challenges they were faced with, the young people decided to pitch for, then won and carried out participatory research with a team from University College London, Southampton University and Liverpool University, ultimately making this documentary of their Lives On Hold: Our Stories Told (LOHST). This film highlights the potential of research not just with communities, but where communities set the agenda and tell their own stories. The young people co-produced this film, participating in the concept development, production and direction as well as creating the visuals for the animation that represents the voices of the many young people who couldn't participate as their asylum cases are still open. The film has contributed to the young people's aims of getting attention across policy, practice and media.
Lives On Hold Our Stories Told is created by a group of young people who came to the UK as unaccompanied asylum seeking children and became part of the charity Shpresa. Shpresa is not the story of a professional, slick NGO – although Shpresa is both professional and slick – but the story of some impressive women (and it is almost exclusively down to women), struggling themselves with their new life in the UK, making their own way successfully and then being determined to use this experience to help fellow community members, including young unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
Shpresa Programme (Shpresa) promotes the integration – with dignity – of the Albanian-speaking community in the UK, providing and facilitating education and training so that members and service users can live full and active roles within their communities.
We align with the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: