'You're not alone here' - Bristol women share stories of migration through performance

  • ITV West Country reporter Verity Wishart spoke to some of the women involved in the project.

A musician is sharing the experiences of migrant women who have travelled to Bristol from all over the world through a performance.

The project is a result of workshops with a group of 15 South Asian, East Asian, African, Middle Eastern, South American, Jewish, Irish, and refugee women.

One of those stories belongs to Sherien Elsheikh who fled from Sudan to Bristol in 2008, when she was just 21 years old.

Now, 16 years later not only does she describe Bristol as her home but helps other refugees following in her footsteps.

Sherien explained: "Everything new for me, young person knowing nothing about the country, a little bit sad because I left my family from the beginning, I've never been away from them.

Sherien Elsheikh who fled from Sudan to Bristol in 2008, and has since raised her family here. Credit: Sherien Elsheikh

"I love to help people and take them from their isolation as well and send that feeling for them. You're not alone here - we're all together, we help each other."

"This is my country now, that's what I feel. This is my place my kids grow here, born here, this is their country."

"For myself, I have found myself in this project as well - I feel like when I talk about memory I just smile on my face."

Sherien's is just one of several stories being told through music and spoken word.

The project was created by Daphna Sadeh-Neu, who wanted to offer a platform for women's voices.

Daphna said: "It was important for me to bring women's voices and subjects like unity, diversity, tolerance, and understanding, as we have so much separation in our world now and women's voices are not always heard.

The project was created by Daphna Sadeh-Neu who wanted to offer a platform for women's voices.

"So it was important to me to project that through the arts and through real stories."

15 women from different backgrounds have contributed to the project, including Valerie Russell Emmott.

Valerie said: "So I'm Jewish, I had a Jewish mum and a Christian dad and one year when I was just really wondering about how I would be treated if I openly told everybody I came across that I was Jewish, I did an experiment.

"I put on the Star of David necklace it was quite sizeable, couldn't really miss it and went on the bus to work, commuted to and from the workplace, I wore it in all my meetings in the workplace, I wore it when I got home and nothing happened - thank god.

Valerie Russell Emmott has also contributed to the project. Credit: Valerie Russell Emmott

"I didn't get mugged I didn't get hassled, no one gave me a hard time. I think we're more accepting. I hope we're a more accepting culture now about people's gender identities, people's sexual identities, and people's religions and beliefs."

Singer Nia Bimkubwa said that contributors and creatives value being part of the experience, creating that safe space to be able to open up and share with others.

Forgotten Songs and Stories in collaboration with Global Majority women in Bristol is funded by Arts Council England.

It debuts on Wednesday 31 January at the Bristol Beacon.