Refugee children make music in Easter holidays

By John Charlton

Oxford Concert Party has joined forces with the Syrian Sisters, an Oxford-based charity, to provide an arts camp in the Easter holidays for refugee children who have fled to Oxford with their mothers from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.

Oxford Concert Party has helped to fund the project and will provide musicians artists and poets, to look at festivals around the world with the children and interpret these through music, poetry and visual art.

Many Syrian families who have arrived in Oxford have experienced trauma and health problems. They are living on very low-incomes, with help from Oxford City Council. School holidays are difficult because the families cannot afford to go on outings or pay for local activities. With numerous children, in cramped accommodation, parents struggle to entertain them at home. So the Arts Camp fulfils a desperate need.

‘Spring celebrations’ is the theme of the project, which runs for six days across two weeks after Easter, for children aged 4-16.

Arne Richards of Oxford Concert Party, said: “We’ll have fun celebrating festivals in the children’s own countries and here in the UK. Whatever we produce, we will have created together, from songs and poems to dances. We’ll be improvising and making art as well, through painting and printing.”

At the end of the week, the children will take part in a public concert and exhibition of their work in the Rose Hill Community Centre.

The Oxford Concert Party, described as Europe’s only baroque and tango orchestra, has spent the past 25 years bringing music to people on the edges of society. The group has worked in prisons, with refugees, and adults with dementia and learning difficulties.

The Syrian Sisters’ Arts Camp is open to all families in the Rose Hill area. It takes place at Rose Hill Community Centre in the Easter school holidays April 3rd, 4th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 13th. To take part, contact Rebecca Atwell, or