Music helping asylum seekers and refugees who call Northern Ireland home

A local Belfast charity is helping to provide asylum seekers and refugees with much needed peace and tranquility.

Beyond Skin uses music as a toll for cultural education and exchange in an aim to address issues of racism.

'Sara' is one of those who has become part of the project - she was forced to flee Iran five months ago.

Sara, not her real name, speaking to UTV's Emma Patterson Credit: UTV

"I have two languages here. I speak English and I can speak with my guitar.

"When I speak English you can hear me but when I start to play the guitar you can hear my heart and how I feel - I think it's a power.

"My guitar explains me - everybody knows that. All I want to do is to help someone because I've been in that situation. I know they suffer. It's my pleasure; it's my passion to do this," 'Sara' added.

Leif Bodnarchuk refurbishes guitars donated by the public.

Leif Bodnarchuk is a guitar technician for the charity. Credit: UTV

He has restored over fifty since the project began at the end of last year.

"It gives them a bit of a lifeline. It gives them a little bit of a ground to walk on," Leif said.

"It's about feeling you have a little bit of worth in society. If you're a musician here and you've got nothing but the shirt on your back, you can't express how you feel so an instrument will help with that.

"It's one little thing. It's one little tiny luxury above survival.

"For a moment in time, they can forget about all the stuff that's worrying them and all the pressures and being in a new country with not knowing what's going to happen down the line," explained Darren Ferguson, the CEO of Beyond Skin.

"They can leave it at the door and be musicians and artists and just have the freedom to express themselves," he added.